One Irish family decide to make a nice gesture for Nan by tidying up her house which was full to bursting with old newspapers and junk. After a planned day out with another family member, she returns to find her home barely recognisable as her relatives excitedly show her around. However, the one thing that does stick out is that they have replaced her old mattress - which happened to have her life savings stashed away inside. The contents of the mattress was nearly 1 million euros, so now Nan's son Colm must set out to retrieve the cash - while trying to keep his reasons private from the prying public. Unfortunately, their story soon becomes headline news and now the whole country's out looking for a million euro mattress. The question is, will their stressful search tear the whole family apart?
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Despite a very wobbly screenplay, this film's decent cast and gorgeous setting make it worth a look. It may be a somewhat awkward mix of comical slapstick, political ideas and darker drama, but the characters hold our interest, and the story is tangled enough to keep us wondering how it will work itself out.
It starts in Glasgow, where the political activist Rosa (Birthistle) decides to take her father's ashes to Cuba, where he once worked as an activist himself and met his wife, who later died there. Rosa's fashion-obsessed sister Allie (Wakefield) decides to come along, as well as Rosa's sardonic pal Conway (Dick). As they travel across the Cuban countryside they have a series of misadventures and meet two local men (Acosta and Simpson) who are a little too sexy and helpful to be trusted. And Rosa is reluctant to either fall in love or rely on any man.
Rosa's prickly personality is a big problem for a film that asks us to take a trip with her. She's so abrasive that she's not easy to like, and Birthistle struggles to make her sympathetic. Thankfully, she's an engaging actor who brings out Rosa's shock at having her idealism challenged by reality. And she has terrific chemistry with Acosta and Simpson, who are superb even as they simplistically represent certain aspects of Cuban society. Wakefield's story arc is less involving, but she's a lot of fun to watch, and Dick walks off with the film in an underwritten comic-relief role.
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Thanks to his heavy involvement in IRA-related activities, the film opens with Brendan (Shawn Hatosy, Anywhere But Here, John Q) in jail in East Anglia, England. Among the prison-camp personalities that the overwhelmed Brendan encounters are a thieving gay sailor named Millwall (Danny Dyer), whom he eventually. He also finds a love interest in the lovely and supportive Liz (Eva Birthistle), who happens to be the daughter of the facility's presiding Governor (Michael York). Consequently, Brendan begins to shape his outlook on life, challenging what was once a rigid belief system entrenched in his conservative shell.
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