Be Good or Be Gone review – sharp Dublin crime thriller with deadpan charm

This ultra-low-budget feature about working-class cousins on temporary release from Dublin’s Mountjoy prison feels a bit like the sort of sketchy, acoustic-sharp Irish black comedy that Lenny Abrahamson (Adam & Paul, Garage) or Martin McDonagh (from the In Bruges period) made in their early years, before they went electric and found mega-fame Stateside directing the likes of Room and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. That’s a high compliment, and possibly a teensy bit more than Be Good or Be Gone deserves, given it’s a smidge trite and over-the-top in places – but it definitely has spark.

Its strongest suit is the chemistry between Les Martin (who also co-wrote the script with Paul Murphy) and impish master of deadpan Declan Mills, who play Ste and Weed respectively They’re ordinary types from Dublin’s rougher zones who, in the case of Ste, blew the chance of a sporting career by getting sucked into the world of drugs and crime. Ste’s mistakes ended up costing an old friend his life, and it looks likely things will never be right with his girlfriend Dee (Jenny Lee Masterson, bringing nuance to a thinly written role), the mother of his too-cute-to-be-true moppet of a daughter Ellie May (Grace Cahill, admittedly adorable).

Consequently, Ste has at least got himself clean and off the skag, but the same can’t be said for Weed, who when we first meet him is wondering if he can smuggle heroin out of prison just to make sure he’ll have a supply. Even so, Weed has ambitions to become a high-fashion designer and is already practising how he’d walk the catwalk for his post-show bow. This is amusing because he looks and sounds just like all the other smackheads in track pants they meet, and is clearly on the wrong side of 35 to break into fashion – but nevertheless, he’s keeping an eye on those stars while lying in his gutter bed.

Over the course of their sojourn outside the walls of Mountjoy, the two confront their past, get involved in an armed robbery and are brutalised by former associates looking to collect debts. Some of the side characters are a little too self-consciously quirky-cute, and it’s all tied up a bit too neatly, but this definitely has charm.

Be Good or Be Gone is released on 13 April on digital platforms.


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