MOVIE REVIEW: Beneath Disheveled Stars


Special Presentation of the Second Annual Irish American Movie Hooley


Kevin Baggott’s darkly comedic film “Beneath Disheveled Stars" was a favorite of the Cork Indie Film Festival and Brooklyn Underground Film Festival.  The film recently opened the 2nd annual Irish American Movie Hooley at the Gene Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago.  As a self-made film from a self-made man, there are qualities to appreciate from this quixotic wild goose chase.

The fable-like film follows the slovenly Bobby Tierney (Baggott, calling his own number) working as a tenement superintendent in Brooklyn.  He is depressed and distressed by the recent passing of his mother.  One of her last requests was for part of her ashes to be spread on the beach at Coney Island.  Her final wish for the other half of them is a secret, but it involves Bobby heading to his ancestral homeland of Ireland.  He leaves his inept and overeager buddy Danny (Danny Gilfeather) in charge when he's gone and absconds the money to travel from the building's pushy owner (Vic Martino).

Arriving in the coastal hiking hills of Kilcrohane in County Cork along the country’s southwest Atlantic coast, Bobby is looking for the town cemetery and an old name from his mother’s past.  Wild goose chases and flustering dead ends beset Bobby, many of which are perpetuating by a loopy local prankster (Colin Martin).  Baggott’s film is a slow-rolling stone that picks up its fair share of moss.  Withheld details reveal layers like current loves, lost loves, and unresolved family dynamics between both Bobby and his mother.

The camera work by Baggott himself keeps an observational distance, matching the invisible walls put up by its loner main character.  The unexplored and isolated settings, manifested little mysteries, and the cycle of conundrums, bring levels of intimacy and intrigue that close that distance.  Though not entirely approachable for all audiences to wrap its head around, “Beneath Disheveled Stars” is an offshoot road movie that draws your guessing to see how it turns out.

LESSON #1: HONORING DYING WISHES-- The final requests of the deceased can be likened to unfulfilled dreams.  The responsibility of friends and loved ones to see those wishes through is an important experience of closure. 

LESSON #2: THE SELF-REFLECTION FACED WHEN ADDRESSING MORTALITY-- Along the same lines of the previous lesson, when the living try to walk in the footsteps of the deceased, they can't help but examine their own mortality.  Fulfilling that dying wish responsibility becomes a compelling push for not just the action itself, but one's own reflection and soul-searching.

LESSON #3: THE DEFINITION OF "DISHEVELED"-- According to the dictionary definition, the key word in this film's title means "marked by disorder or disarray."  Our protagonist Bobby both physically and emotionally epitomizes that word.  Through small steps we learn the disarray of his life and the growing amount of failures that he drags through this journey.  More often than not, those failures are self-inflicted and self-realized.