Paul Grot is a quiet, unassuming man. He can come off as a bit creepy at times but for the most part he is nothing more than shy and, unfortunately, devoid of social interaction. However, he keeps a dark secret in his home: the dead body of a young woman. While Paul may not have a relationship with any living person, he's developed a strong bond with the lifeless body of this woman and begins to fill a void in his life. That is until Paul begins to realize what he's done.
Suffice to say, Film Bizarro loves this current wave of Irish independent cinema. Ronny has been covering it almost exclusively while I only catch what's managed to find a release, such as "The Looking Glass" or "Charlie Casanova" . Thankfully, the torched has been passed -- so to speak -- and I received a screener for Shaun Ryan's film "Limp". One that I was glad that I could and was able to watch sooner rather than later because it absolutely blew me away.
Paul Grot is a lonely man. A quiet man. Like so many shy and quiet individuals, he keeps to himself but yearns for basic human interaction and like most men, he desires the love of a woman. But how can such a meek individual -- a man who won't even stand up for himself and won't talk to anybody, find love? An unknown incident occurs and Mr. Grot ends up with the corpse of a female co-worker in his home and as a result he begins a descent into a fantasy world where he is able to find the love that he desires in the form of a dead woman.
Coming in at a brisk 70 minute runtime, "Limp" is a movie that hit hard in it's portrayal of what it is to be alone with only desire and fantasy to serve as companionship. The two biggest draws that "Limp" has to it is Shaun Ryan's interesting approach in telling the story and Eoin Quinn's amazing performance.
From the opening of the movie with a chilling monologue being told from a young boy about how another young boy from the neighborhood who has seen some terrible, terrible things -- Shaun begins telling a very elaborate story delivered in surprisingly simple fashion. With most films you get a typical linear story: you're introduced to characters, given a conflict and then a resolution of said conflict. With "Limp", you're dropped into the middle of a story -- you don't know how or why, but Paul Grot has the body of a young woman in his home but he does and he is living a delusion that he is actually in a loving relationship. Much like a stone being dropped into water, Paul killing this woman causes a rippling effect and within those ripples we not only see Paul's story but also the stories of what this one incident has created.
Even though the story does not unfold in a typical 3 act structure and there is almost no dialogue spoken, Shaun manages to tell a story in a unique way of going beyond the main character's world while still being in it. There are two stories being told simultaneously but with out becoming convoluted or being weighted down. In fact, it is done so seemlessly that a viewer could miss the detail upon an initial viewing but not lose out on the effectiveness and the impact of the emotional core of the movie. "Limp", in general, is a great example of a filmmaker putting their focus on what matters -- telling a story.
Since there is almost no dialogue and the movie flows in a non-traditional manner, a lot of the story is told simply through the acting of Eoin Quinn who does one of the best jobs I have seen in an independent movie. That may sound hyperbole-ish, but for me, I can't recall the last time I have seen where an actor was completely enveloped by the character they are portraying. The way he looks, the way he carries himself and even down to the clothes he wares -- everything tells you exactly what type of person Paul is and the kind of life he lives. There is one particular element in Eoin's performance that stood out for me is that when you see Paul out in the world, he appears to trying to hide within himself. Something that may not sound like it makes much sense, but with the shy and loner types, they don't want the world to notice them -- even if deep down they actually do -- so it was fantastic to see an actor add that into their performance by the way they walk and hold themselves. Eoin was believable as Paul and it's what made the movie and the character have such an emotional impact.
Between Eoin's performance and Shaun's directing and writing; the two manage to create an emotionally conflicting character for the viewer. Paul in essence is a monster. We may not know how or what caused him to kill the young woman but we know he did. We also get to see this hidden monster come out from Paul again when he deals with other antagonists and explodes in a violent fit of rage. Yet somehow we are still sympathetic to Paul. He is like anyone else; he has the same desires as everyone else but he unfortunately was never able to find a way to communicate with the world around him. Now he finds himself alone to a point that it causes him to do something drastic and horrific when he becomes lost to those desires, those needs and to a fantasy.
"Limp" is simply fantastic in that it is a sad tale of what can happen someone is devoid of something so basic as socialization or even worse, love. "Limp" may not be the typical horror movie that we've come to expect from a genre title, yet it carries a heavy and haunting atmosphere. So much to a point that even things such as the score, the silence of the characters and the long, empty stares of Paul Grot gets under your skin and makes you feel uneasy. "Limp" could have very easily gone the easy route and made nothing more than a necrophilia shock-based horror movie (you know the kind that I'm talking about). Instead he creates an effective movie by finding the horror in the tragedy of life and loneliness.
I'm looking forward to what Shaun Ryan does next because he really surprised me with what he did with "Limp". Not only in finding a way to tell a complete story in a non-linear fashion, without ever becoming convoluted, but how he expanded that story beyond typical limitations. Where even the smallest things, such as the opening and closing monologues, may not be what they seem. As well as the attention to detail in music and editing. "Limp" is an impressive debut feature and is further proof that people need to be watching this wave of independent films and filmmakers from Ireland.