2017 Chicago Irish Film Festival: Shorts Program


Compared to “First Kiss,” “The Apparel” skews far more to a situational drama that prefers the static to the kinetic.  In Limerick, an older and clearly cultured man named Joseph (Andrew Bennett) is seeks to relocate to a new flat for ominously unspoken reasons.  Weighting advice from a gentlemen who appears to be his legal counsel, Joe insists that whoever he lives with not be told his circumstances.   

In short order, Joseph gains a pudgy and messy flatmate named David (Aidan Crowe), very much an opposite to the Joseph we’ve met.  When Joseph leaves for the day with a conspicuous pink rolling suitcase, he peels himself away from sidewalk view.  He changes from laborer’s clothes to finer threads, astute glasses, and puts on a wedding band.  When David goes looking into where Joseph spends his days, he (and us) learns a few painful truths.

Shot with a set-back distance of voyeurism created by Patrick Jordan’s camera, “The Apparel” eschews simple symmetry when unfolding its narrative.  It tiptoes around the periphery and avoids centering on any single trait or hint.  A tone of soft, meandering piano music from Sarah Lynch perpetuates that feel.  

Director Peter Delaney and writer Daniel Mooney flesh out miniature character study with decent results.  Andrew Bennett gives a very solid performance to construct numerous shades of character within Joe.  He is a man that is losing touch with his comfort zone.  We never fully know his issues and we shouldn’t have to.  Reading Joe’s body language and inflection reveals plenty and the uneasiness is an attention-holding draw.

LESSON #1: CLOTHES DON’T MAKE THE MAN-- One of the layers to Joseph’s ruse is his titular wardrobe.  This is a scenario where you can’t judge a person by the exterior or public persona.  Something brighter is inevitably inside.  When the soft scarves come out to replace the reflective neon of a workman’s vest, it is Joe shedding a bit of a cocoon and revealing a butterfly that lies beneath.  

LESSON #2: MAINTAINING TOUCH WITH A PASSION-- A recent event has changed Joseph’s life and set him tumbling back to a lesser state from where he was.  The quality things he was used to are now eluding him, except for where he goes when he changes those clothes.  A large part of his charade involves fleeting moments where he can still live and breathe his chosen passion.  It’s like a secret life, an intimate one that he keeps to himself, even from his closest associates.