J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Lost & Found: Gentle Irish Ironies


This interconnected slice of Irish life could have been titled Two Weddings and Three Funerals, except one of the weddings is called off at an embarrassingly late date. You could also think of it as Friday the 13th: The Series, without the horror elements. Each of the linked storylines revolves around an object that finds its way into a sleepy Irish rail station’s lost items department. Somehow, they tend to find their way into the right hands during the course of Liam O’Mochain’s Lost & Found, which is now playing in select theaters.

Daniel is the new lost & found guy. He was hired by Joe, who is a drunken reprobate, who constantly hits on Daniel’s mom, but in a charming Irish kind of way. Daniel plays it rather fast-and-loose with the office’s stupid rules, but he is also a soft touch for a panhandler’s sob story. He pops up in nearly every story, and he will play the leading role in at least one, in addition to the framing device.

Perhaps the most poignant tale is “Ticket to Somewhere” in which Eddie, a rather agitated middle-aged gentleman, begs for train fare to visit his wife and daughter in hospital. Ironically, the best of the braided tales happens to be The Tent, which is partially set it Poland. Daniel returns to the homeland of his recently deceased grandmother, a Kindertransport survivor, in hopes of recovering a small part of her legacy. Of course, he will do so in a rather eccentric fashion.

Lost & Found is an unhurried, low-impact film, but it is not without its charms. O’Mochain and editor Ciara Murphy stitched together several short films he made over a number of years, squeezing them into the framing conceit. That maybe doesn’t sound so promising, but they manage to shoehorn everything in quite effectively.

It helps that they have a game cast, starting with O’Mochain himself. Initially, he is likably lunkheaded as Daniel, but he shows greater range in The Tent. Few would argue Liam Carney is the head-and-shoulders standout for his heart-breaking performance as Eddie the distressed traveler. Even though the humor is mostly rather gentle, Brendan Conroy and Seamus Hughes mine the material for laughs quite diligently, as Daniel’s boss Joe and his meat-headed running mate, Gabriel, respectively.

Admittedly, Lost & Found is an extremely Irish movie, but fortunately, O’Mochain did not feel compelled to load up the soundtrack with a bunch of traditional Irish fiddle music. Instead, Richie Buckley’s upbeat score swings nicely thanks to its easily audible jazz inspirations.

Lost & Found won several awards while on the festival circuit—and it is not difficult to see why. It is not a particularly deep film and O’Mocahin does not quite tie together all the loose end. However, he still pays it off nicely. Frankly, according to the laws of nature and the principles of science, it is impossible to actively dislike this film. Pleasant but mild mannered, Lost & Found should be relatively accessible for more mature patrons, who are most likely its target demo. Recommended fans of Roddy Doyle movies and Patrick Taylor novels, Lost & Found is now playing in select theaters, including the Kew Gardens Cinemas in Queens.

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