“April 9th” – An Emotive Film Debut
Succeeding in exposing the vulnerable sadness that exists in the every day, we look forward to seeing how he grows as a filmmaker.
“April 9th” is the passion project of actor Tom Pigot and debut of directing and writing. A family affair with the original story coming from Pigot’s sister, Trish Feehan, “April 9th” is about love, loss, and grieving. It intertwines two seemingly separate stories, one of long-separated lovers rekindling, and one of an average family’s mourning process. Both center around the grief of losing a child – grief about adoption, and also the death of a child – portrayed as all-encompassing but quiet, waiting in the background.
In the post-recession era, the plot seems all too familiar. There is an over-saturation of stories about middle-class forty-somethings and their impending issues. This emerges in “April 9th” with highly successful star Denise, (played by the impressive Carolyn Bracken) who dreams of a normal family life, contrasted by left-behind Aiden (Pigot) seemingly begrudging his family and life at home. The flirtatious remembering of their affair is emotionally scored by melancholic, gentle music that plucks the heartstrings and signifies unfinished business. Bracken’s emotive range tends to steal the scene from Pigot at times, but he certainly holds his own giving a certain unspoken sadness to his otherwise pleasant
demeanor. Focusing the film on the theme of adoption is an interesting choice in a “Post Repeal Ireland”. Lots of (often propagandic) emotive media surfaced around the referendum but the similar themes and emotions portrayed in “April 9th” are refreshing when contextualised differently.
In contrast to Aiden and Denise’s self-indulgent, absentminded bleakness is the family home in the other plotline. Norma, played by Emer Hodges, brings a quiet beauty in her portrayal of a grieving, but still, functional mother. The everyday banality of the family life is brought to life on screen, this average Irish kitchen brings comfort and a sense of life before the bereavement. Family life is portrayed with a great sense of naturalism and the chemistry between the actors, giving the heart-wrenching effect of authentic grieving in the mundane.
The camera work is, at times, beautiful. Luckily, the Irish weather helped to paint Bray Harbour as idyllic, creating striking shots of Bracken’s vivid red hair against the bright blue sea, juxtaposed by the black clothing – foreshadowing the physical bereavement and symbolising the emotional bereavement felt by the pair. However, some of the shots may have been a touch overzealous. The extreme close-up of Pigot in the finale took away from the highly emotive conversation in favour of artistic effect. Another downside is the lack of trust in the audience. At the climax, the audience is aware of what connects these two stories – sometimes things are best left to be imagined, not over eagerly explained.
“April 9th” is a very ambitious first film for Pigot and a very exciting look into the future of Irish film. Along with the rest of the cast and crew, he succeeded in exposing the vulnerable sadness that exists in the everyday, and we look forward to seeing how he grows as a filmmaker.
For more information on the film and the team, you can visit their website here.