The towns and smaller cities in Ireland are, for the most part, very peaceful and crime free. So when a heinous crime is committed, it can shake an entire community as well as the country. In 1994, a disturbed man named Brendan O'Donnell terrorized a small town in East Clare, Ireland when he murdered a young woman, her child and a priest. Fast forward to the Galway Film Fleadh 2016 and the premiere of that story on screen. Director Kit Ryan tells a different side in Property of the State.
Ryan describes how O'Donnell's sister's, Ann Marie, wrote about her troubled sibling in a personal journal. The story is about a young man who suffered severe mental illness due to years of constant physical, verbal and sexual abuse. It also puts a spotlight on how the mental health system failed Brendan. Instead of receiving treatment, he was sent to reform institutions and prisons where the cycle of abuse continued.
If you're an actor, these are the kind of roles you dream about about. Patrick Gibson (What Richard Did) plays Brendan in the later years. He is absolutely incredible in this role. The media and community obviously painted this man as a monster who was purely a criminal and a thug. But Gibson brings a touch of humanity. Yes, the crimes were unforgivable, but what is to be expected when a human being is treated like a pariah from the time he is born?
The role of young Brendan is played by the up and coming actor David Rawle, who is a celebrity in Ireland and the UK thanks to his comical shenanigans in Moone Boy. But this is as far from a young spirited happy young man as one can get. Pay attention to this one. His portrayal of the young Brendan is a realization that you are seeing something special and cannot be ignored. There are scenes in the film that would be difficult for even the most seasoned actor. But Rawle dominates with rawness and elegance.
Ann Marie's journal has given this story that other side of mental illness. The events recalled are clouded by a sister's love, but she acknowledges the monster that eventually emerged. Ann Marie is played beautifully by another exciting emerging artist, Aisling Loftus (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).
Property of the State is just starting its festival run. Keep reading Selig for updates on when it hits the US.