BFI London Film Festival Review: Sensation


By Jack Gregson
Score:  1/4 

Director: Tom Hall
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Luanne Gordon, Patrick Ryan & Kelly Campbell

This was my first film of the festival, not really the best way to start it off. Sensation is a dark Irish comedy based around loneliness, death and the Irish sex trade, I know right? Really comedic subjects. Don’t get me wrong, I love most types of comedy, but sometimes the laughs just don’t come.


The film is slow, devoid of laughs and offers completely unlikeable characters. The plot follows the socially inept Donal (Gleeson) whose life seems to be at a loose end after the passing of his father. During his mourning period Donal decides to hire an escort (Gordon), this sexual encounter seems to rob his of his sheepish nature and makes him want to become a pimp of sorts, from then on the plot seems to examine the hardships of opening a sex agency in Ireland (which is actually quite interesting but comes about an hour too late into the film).

The worst thing about this film is its main character; Donal is easily one of the least likeable or relatable protagonists I’ve seen in a long time. An early scene shows us our “hero” drowning two kittens for no apparent reason, it’s a scene that makes you loose any real connection to the character. The relationship he enters into with the escort is also a let down, the two clearly don’t like each other, they are only together because the script has thrown them together.

The script is bland, filled with dull dialogue and full of awkward pauses (that make you think the actors have forgotten their lines most of the time). Director Tom Hall shows no flare for making this gritty version of Ireland come to life as I never felt there was any sort of shame that came along with being a sex worker. I can clearly see that the crew behind this film had some ideas that they thought could be funny and lead to an interesting film, but they just miss the mark completely. I did laugh once, when Donal pays his Indian IT guy and tells him to “Go get a curry”, the line was just completely racist and out of the blue that it made me laugh, unfortunately it wasn’t a good laugh, I sat through the rest in silence though.

The film does have some high points, it was nice to see the creation of the escort agency and Owen Roe puts in a good performance as the films main antagonist but on the whole it’s a dud. Don’t bother with it (yet I doubt it will ever reach a cinema near enough to you for you to even try).

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