Director: Conor McDermottroe
Talent: Sarah Bolger, Nikesh Patel, Colm Meaney, Deirdre O’Kane
Released: 30th June
Halal Daddy tells the story of Raghdan Aziz (Patel), a 21-year old British Muslim who left his native Bradford in an effort to escape the clutches of his domineering father. Now living in Sligo, he has found a measure of peace: he’s like a son to uncle Jamal and his Irish wife, Doreen (O’Kane); he has two best friends, Derek and Neville, with whom he surfs and smokes weed; and he’s in a relationship with a lovely Irish cailín named Maeve (Bolger). He’s living an idyllic if aimless life, until his father buys a local factory with the intention of producing Halal meat, and convinces his son to help.
Despite a good cast and, at times, an aesthetically sensitive portrayal of Sligo, the film is desperately unimaginative, and its last half-hour drags terribly as a result. The biggest problem with Halal Daddy is that each of the major obstacles the protagonists are challenged with – and which thereby form the substance of the plot – aren’t really obstacles. Each one could be resolved by a concise five-minute conversation between two rational adults. Whether it’s Raghdan’s concerns about his girlfriend’s fidelity, his father’s unwarranted expectations, Maeve’s reluctance to travel, or her father’s shock at being unemployed (again), all of these obstacles either dispel immediately once the characters have a dialogue that lasts longer than two minutes, or they would never have arisen had a conversation occurred. Ultimately the film is an exercise in watching people do unlikely things without any justification, and thus, without any consequence for the audience.
Like I said, the actors do their best. Sarah Bolger is engaging, and the lead, Nikesh Patel, is highly likable. But not even the presence of Deirde O’Kane, whom I love, can save the day. Unlike the Halal factory’s abattoir, this film has too much tripe in it.
Words – Tom Lordan