When Irish Eyes Are Crying—Life’s A Breeze is sadly indicative of European Art-House’s waning presence in the US.

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We’ve strayed a long way from the so-called “Kitchen Sink” directors of the 1960’s. Auteurs like Lindsay Anderson and Tony Richardson laid out dark, moving tales of class struggle, and the fascism of Britain’s archaic persistence on social mores. Today, the U.K. and Ireland’s most common cinematic exports to the states take the form of uplifting pap. While it’s only fair to admit comparing The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is like comparing apples to a Buick, it still stands to reason that both American and British Isle distributors are leaving even the art-house theaters of America with little options other than feature-length schmaltz.

Life’s a Breeze, written and directed by Lance Daly, tells the story of a working class family in Dublin. The aging, Nan, has three adult offspring; the Biff Lohman-esque Colm, who still lives at home, collecting dole checks; a second the film never bothers to center on much; and Margaret, who’s been lending enough money to the others to find herself in dire straits. The three siblings are more or less waiting until Nan is either dead or sickly enough to be put in a home, so they can sell her house, and ease their fiduciary woes. As their contempt for the equally resentful Nan grows, Colm hatches a plan to patch the childrens’ contentious relationship with their matriarch.

Bribing his niece, Emma, with a 20 note bill, Colm gets her to take Nan out for the day while the rest of the family cleans the house, throwing out all the effluvia of a life long-lived. When Nan returns home, she finds her children have replaced her old spring mattress with a tempurpedic. It’s then she finally reveals the old mattress has been the long-time hiding place of a secret life savings, which she estimates at nearly a million Euros. The family bands together to search high and low for the discarded mattress, and the answer to all of their troubles held within.

Preciousness aside, the story arc promises one of two possible endings: Either the family never finds the money, but the experience teaches them the value of sticking together, or they do find the money, yet in the end decide they don’t care, still having learned that blood is more important. What we do get is an empty combination of neither, if that’s somehow possible. The family does end up happy together, but still, only at the hands of monetary windfall. Thus, more inquisitive viewers must point out, Nan and the rest haven’t really learned their lesson, while Daly still treats the emotional dénouement as if they have.

Given Daly’s previous feature length, Kisses, which—through a thin veil of grit—remains just as insipid as its title, shows he’s shaping up to be Dublin’s answer to Zach Braff, empty inspiration, wherein characters hardly grow but we act as if they have. Again, this writer acknowledges there is a fishbowl effect involved in complaining that the U.K. and nearby ilses don’t make them like they used to. For one, we know Mike Leigh hardly have quit after the boundary pushing, Naked. The more apt question remains, why are distributors no longer floating them across the Atlantic? Are they sinking to lie beside the Titanic, rotting just as much, yet without the increasing legend?

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