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'When Brendan Met Trudy'

Movie buff finds romance in 'When Brendan Met Trudy'

Friday, March 09, 2001

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

It's no accident that the title of "When Brendan Met Trudy" is a riff on "When Harry Met Sally." Brendan (Peter McDonald) is what we in the reviewing game call a film geek.

His Dublin apartment is decorated with movie posters. He gives his mother a book on Jean-Luc Godard for Christmas (she reciprocates with a Tamagotchi, to keep him company) and he spends his free time watching old or obscure movies.

'When Brendan
Met Trudy'

RATING: R for sex, nudity, language.

STARRING: Peter McDonald, Flora Montgomery

DIRECTOR: Kieron J. Walsh



Brendan seems to be sleepwalking through the history and English classes he teaches to high school lads. He's got a bit of Niles Crane prissiness about him and he forever calls the boys by the wrong names and admits in the early voiceover: "I was grinding out a living, but I seemed to have lost my touch." He keeps busy, singing with a church choir, but something is missing.

That something is a woman, and a bright-eyed blonde named Trudy (Flora Montgomery) introduces herself in a pub and, eventually, more than fills the void in Brendan's life.

She is everything he's not: extrovert, partygoer, risk-taker, person who will happily see an action movie instead of one from a respected Polish director and someone with a secret reason for slipping out in the middle of the night. Even clueless Brendan begins to have suspicions about those disappearances and when he learns the truth, he has to decide how to live with it.

When he flexes his own bad-boy muscles, he is petrified and then emboldened. But lawlessness has its price, as Trudy and Brendan learn by the end. The romantic comedy's tone, however, is always bubbly, the movie clips classic (everything from "The Quiet Man" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" to "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "The African Queen") and the music delightfully diverse. It ranges from "Panis Angelicus" to "The Passenger" by Iggy Pop.

One of the many differences between "When Brendan" and "When Harry" is the supporting cast. Brendan's family includes his surprisingly foul-mouthed mother -- enough with the old ladies spewing the f-word for laughs -- and his supercilious sister whose car has a sticker proclaiming "Middle Class and Proud of It."

Opening today at the Loews Waterfront as part of the Shooting Gallery series, this is the first film from Irish director Kieron J. Walsh, whose credits include television shows. It was written by Roddy Doyle, whose previous films were adaptations of his novels, "The Commitments," "The Snapper" and "The Van." This is not as rich a film, and Brendan's transformation sometimes strains credulity.

You don't need to be a film geek to get all the jokes or re-creations of famous scenes, but it will help. And make sure you sit through the credits which, like "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and other films, provide updates on what happens to the characters. You've seen it before, but that's kind of the point.

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