Older Than Ireland ****
Dir: Alex Fegan. 76 mins. Uncertificated.
Both wry treat and testament to the efficacy of modern medicine, Alex Fegan’s documentary rounds up thirty Irish centenarians, and invites them to hold forth on subjects from the Civil War to Twitter. While sketching a turbulent national past, Fegan’s history leans towards the social: the film invokes that Advanced Style appeal of watching hardy sorts – caught at prayer, at bingo and in the hairdresser’s chair – offer entertainingly gossipy titbits on courtship, beauty and other everyday pursuits. If, even with judicious subtitling, certain interviewees aren’t always so intelligible, you still find yourself leaning in – encouraged by cinematographer Colm Nicell’s simple yet often beautifully revealing framing – to glean these tribal elders’ every word. Most shrug off claims to profound wisdom, but in recording bedbound Luke Dolan’s whooping recollections of his first kiss, and Dr. Flann Brennan’s still-vivid grief at outlasting his children, Fegan succeeds in preserving something essential to our existence. You’ll shed a tear or two, possibly more.
Older Than Ireland opens in selected cinemas from today.