My first encounter with Reefer and the Model (Joe Comerford’s independent thriller and Ireland first arthouse ‘western’) was in 1989 when I moved to France. Moving around the city, I was surprised to discover several posters advertising an Irish comedy-thriller that consisted of an odd ‘line -up’ style photo displaying a priest, a bearded woman, and a labourer.
Reefer and the Model tells the story of an odd foursome. Reefer (Ian McElhinney) and his two comrades (Spider and Badger) are men with a violent past now eking a living on a battered trawler that operates as a ferry along the Galway coast. When Reefer picks up a hitchhiking pregnant woman (Carol Scanlan) who’s struggling with drug addiction, an odd sort of romance develops, and she comes to live on the trawler. The newly bound, but financially desperate, foursome must now resort to a heist to survive.
When it was released, although relatively little known in Ireland, the movie was being lapped up by European audiences (it won the Europa Prize at the Barcelona Festival, Best Feature at the Celtic Film Festival in Wales and was nominated for Best Young Film at the 1988 European Film Awards), who were entertained by, but didn’t entirely know what to make of, this west of Ireland style adventure. The American market also struggled with how to approach this indigenous production and it had a relatively low profile there.
The 1988 movie languished in the archives for decades but was recently restored through the IFI and Screen Ireland Digitisation Project and a new Director’s Cut was released with a premiere screening at the Galway Film Fleadh this month.
The movie is 80 mins long but if you get a chance to see it. I was very influenced by it when I first saw it and fell in love with its clever dialogue (which now sounds slightly stilted to my ears) and the theme song from Delores Keane.
There’s very little video of the movie available online apart from a report on its making from the RTE archives whihc you can find here: https://www.rte.ie/…/21282626-reefer-and-the-model…/