★★★★ - STUFF
- Why this Derry girls' tale should be your next night out -
We are in Derry, the second-largest city in Northern Ireland, sometime in the present day or very close, and newly 44-year-old Pamela is on a bender to celebrate her birthday.
All of which culminates in a very unplanned, unprotected and unforeseen knee-trembler atop the reclining front seats of Barry the neighbourhood plumber's Ford Transit van.
Next morning, with a hangover that could stun a mule and frankly no sympathy from her slightly holier-than-thou "she's 15-going-on-50" daughter Allegra, Pam' gathers what she can of her memories, plucks a few hairs from the dog with bestie Sinead and gets on with her life. Pausing only to wonder why she still feels ill the next day and her breasts are aching something fierce, Pam jokes with Sinead “if it wasn't impossible, I'd say I was pregnant”.
Which, of course, she is.
Over the next economically assembled 90 or so minutes, Shelly Love's debut feature charts the course of Pamela's subsequent nine months, as she negotiates unmarried, middle-aged motherhood against a backdrop of Catholic antagonism, neighbourhood tittle-tattle, Allegra's dad being exactly the useless turnip we expected and Barry the plumber running a mile when confronted with impending fatherhood.
Allegra, meanwhile, is running into adolescence like a shin runs into a tow-bar, with heartbreak, bullying and ritual humiliation all laying in wait.
All of which sounds like A Bump Along the Way might not be a particularly likeable or enjoyable wee yarn. But the truth is, you will like this film very much, if it sounds like the sort of thing you care to see.
In the leads, veteran Bronagh Gallagher (Albert Nobbs) is typically perfect as the resilient and empathetic Pamela. We believe in this woman, and we want to see her triumph. Next to Gallagher, star-in-the-making Lola Pettigrew (Dating Amber) turns in another strong, believable and layered teenage character.
Tess McGowan's script (also on feature debut) is dense, with great lines, pithy asides and moments of acute observation.
A Bump Along the Way won't change your life, but it is a well put-together, perfectly enjoyable and very human film. If you were a fan of Rosie a few weeks back, then make this your next night out.
- Graeme Tuckett, STUFF
A Bump Along the Way is now playing at Light House Cinema!