Review: Parked (DVD)

parked colin morgan colm meany on bench

A couple years ago an Irish-Finnish independent film, directed by Darragh Byrne, started going around the festivals and earning itself some awards and nominations. This little film that could is Parked, starring Colm Meaney as Fred, a man who returns to Ireland after working in England for a time, only to find himself down on his luck and living out of his car in a seaside parking lot. While trying to keep some semblance of a normal life, someone else moves into his parking lot: a young man named Cathal (played by Colin Morgan), also living out of his car and obviously a bit of a junkie. Cathal and Fred strike up an unlikely but heart-warming friendship as they try to maneuver through the difficulties of being homeless. Things get both better and worse when Fred becomes entranced by a lovely woman, Jules (Milka Ahlroth), because she seems to like him back, but he’s afraid to tell her that he lives out of his car. Cathal, on the other hand, seems to be suffering from more difficulties just as Fred’s life might be looking up. Everything comes to a head in a poignant and bittersweet ending, one where Fred makes a valuable realization about life, hope, and perseverance.

Parked DVD cover with Colm Meaney's character FredI have to say that I absolutely loved this film. It’s advertised as a comedy-drama, and while it has plenty of humor throughout, I think it might lean more toward the drama end of the spectrum. The budding friendship between Fred and Cathal is a lot of fun to watch, but it also has more somber-yet-beautiful moments between them that can break your heart. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but this is a sad movie in many ways, despite ending on a message of hope. Colm Meaney gives a wonderful, understated performance of a man trying to maintain his dignity in the face of having his world reduced to the interior of a car. Colin Morgan takes what could have been a stereotypical role as a junkie and adds a twitchy eagerness underlain by a tragic past. Both Fred and Cathal are laid low by their circumstances, but they are able to keep going and fighting for a brighter future. Even Fred’s love interest, Jules, is in a similar position of dealing with a major life change. These three characters are muddling through unexpected situations, places they never thought their lives would end up, making the best of things and always looking toward finding a way out. They’re all like the clocks and watches that Fred fixes. They’re not broken beyond repair; they just need a cleaning and a tune up.

While Fred’s character is the center of the story, in my opinion Cathal steals the show. He’s funny as well as just plain fun, and he acts like a much-needed spark in Fred’s life. Colin’s performance felt genuine and his Dublin accent flawless to the point where you can’t always tell what he’s saying. Well, if you’re American at least. (Some viewers might also think that people are calling his character “Carl.” His name is not Carl.) But Colin did an amazing job, and I have to hold myself back from gushing about him or else this review would be nothing but waxing poetic about his face, and the things he does with his face in this film that break my heart. The nasty teeth they put on him only added to the reality of his acting, and only detracted just the slightest from the many close ups that explored his face. I think the close ups were probably to show the illusion of bliss he experienced while high. During those times he often looked simply lost to me, like he couldn’t help but fall into the abyss. He also has very pretty eyes and amazing cheekbones, but that’s another matter. Colin’s acting truly is an example of art, and I look forward to whatever is next for him.

Parked has been out on DVD in the UK for a while, but it only just recently arrived in the US. You should go out and buy a copy. Now. I first saw this at the Capital Irish Film Festival back in December 2011, and have been waiting for it to be released on DVD ever since. I admit that I heard about this film because I’m a huge fan of Colin Morgan, who played the lead in BBC’s Merlin. And I might be a bit biased toward his acting, but I truly enjoyed this film on its own merit. As well as the extreme close ups of Colin’s face. They were necessary…for his character…yeah.

The only thing about this DVD I found disappointing was that it completely lacked special features. The worst part is that I happen to know that the version released in the UK did in fact contain special features, including interviews with the cast and the director. I wish they could have added those here too, and I don’t understand why they didn’t. Otherwise I am thrilled to finally have a copy of this film in my collection.