Film Review | Is Twice Shy Too Shy to Address the Important Issue of Abortion in Ireland?

Twice Shy is a microbudget Irish indie that exists to tackle the controversial subject of abortion with a tenderness of heart. It’s a visibly shoestring affair, the second such from Director Tom Ryan, and one imagines this thing was a labour of love. You can see the fingerprints all over, struggling bravely against the constraints of telling a story set in multiple locations over a long period of time. However, Irish audiences may find themselves wanting to like it more than they do because the film tries so hard to be inoffensive that it ends up soft-balling itself out of existence.

Over the course of a tense ride to the airport we are told of Maggie and Andy’s relationship in flashback. That’s where the film’s warmth starts to become a handicap. The way they meet just might be relatable (Leaving Cert night, the debs) but it’s just not very interesting. You start to wish the storytelling was a little more ruthless.

Ryan is also far too kind to his characters. The Director’s previous piece, Trampoline, had an amiably messy protagonist. This has the most milquetoast co-leads imaginable. Andy is such a well meaning innocent that, while he has survived on Earth long enough to almost finish a college course, he’s amazed to learn that women like it when you cook for them. They’re the kind of kids that come straight home from the debs, sober as judges. Maggie is also a confident, smart level headed young woman. Taken together they just aren’t an engaging couple to watch on screen. Imagine Obvious Child with a pair of Jake Lacys and no Jenny Slate.

The plot touches on many interesting themes without ever taking off its kid gloves. Mental illness and the Irish code of silence that, too often, suffocates taboo subjects are both featured. It then doesn’t quite do enough with these subjects to warrant bringing them up in the first place. This is also true of its take on the issue of Irish women seeking abortions in England. Instead of a climax we get an extremely disappointing cop out.

There’s no doubt that the people making this are talented. In this instance, though, their desire to talk sensitively about delicate subject matter has lead to a film that is so soft it feels limp.

Twice Shy is in cinemas now. 
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