As we’re introduced to the titular character of director Brendan Canty’s 15-minute short Christy, sat on an abandoned sofa in the middle of a field chatting to his friends, it instantly becomes clear that this is someone who doesn’t have a lot of opportunities available for what to do with his life. With his future prospects resting on a job interview the next day, Christy turns down the chance to party with his friends and instead turns to his brother for help. Aiming to create a universal story that felt authentic, Canty’s film is brimming with charm and hope, turning what could have been a downbeat tale into an entertaining and emotionally engaging watch.
When we asked Canty how Christy’s universe came to be, he shared with us that it is based on an actual conversation he had with a bunch of teenagers back in 2015. Sat drinking around a fire on Bonfire Night on the North Side of Cork City, the filmmaker was “struck by the lack of confidence they had when speaking about their future”. Explaining that they came across as “charming and capable” but with “very low self-esteem”, Canty credits this contrast, and the photos he took that night, as being a big influence on his narrative.
One could argue that Canty isn’t really breaking any new ground in the social realism genre with Christy, but infusing the film with a healthy dose of humor, albeit dark, adds a great deal of warmth to his short and presents a more hopeful outlook than we might be used to in similar stories. While the film remains rooted in reality with a very naturalistic approach, the tone is not trying to over-dramatize the narrative and therefore empowers the characters, making them even more likeable. Canty also puts his main character into situations that allow the audience to empathize and connect with him, instead of making us feeling sympathy for him, which ultimately would have led to a disconnect. It’s clear from watching the film, that Christy is a good guy deep down and you can’t help but root for him.
In addition to capturing their outlook on life, Canty successfully brings to the screen the authentic bond between Christy and his friends, with the audience organically getting a good understanding of their relationship through seemingly inconsequential interactions that feed the narrative. With the majority of his actors cast on the streets, they do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to the genuine feel of the narrative and the banter between characters. Daniel Power, who portrays Christy, nails the range of emotions needed to make his character complex and relatable. From his desperation to get a job and move on with his life, to his nerves surrounding the interview and the youthful bravado masking his lack of self-confidence, Christy has at least one personality layer that anyone could find relatable.
Ahead of its S/W debut, Christy hit the festival circuit in 2020 with notable stops at the Palm Springs ShortFest, Encounters and later on its home turf at the Cork and Dublin Film Festivals. Christy is Canty’s second short, after his 2016 film For You (starring Barry Keoghan) and the director is currently working with BBC films and Scott Free Productions to develop it into a feature.