A homeless man saves a teenager from a bully and ends up becoming friends with him. He realizes that this kid is being used and abused by a drug dealer, his own mother and everyone around him, and tries to show him he's not worthless. But the homeless man is very unstable and has his own issues on his shoulders, which will end up hurting someone.
We're not talking about Tarkovsky's "Stalker" here, obviously, so let's put that aside (though they are open about appreciating his work within the movie). It's a simple, affective word that you can't blame anyone for using, though I hope it won't make it harder for people to find. It's actually an appropriate title, which at first when the movie started seemed like an ironic joke, but further on became more true the darker and more serious it goes. It's a movie that's hard to define in few words much like the two recent movies that it reminds me of: "SUPER" and "God Bless America", though with less violence and vigilantism.
We start off watching a street preaching priest and quickly jump to a homeless man, Oliver, who really soaks up his every word. Oliver is a nice man, but undoubtedly troubled. We follow him as he helps a teenager from his bullies and then goes out of his way to befriend the teenager. They get along, but obviously a teenager would be on the edge about that. That doesn't stop him to constantly visit the kid, and eventually actually find a friendship there. He sees the bad life the kid is living, with a bitch of a mother and being forced to be a drug dealer for his uncle. Oliver steps in to defend and is now forced to take up a fight against a drug lord and his minions.
There are many fun and comedic parts in "Stalker", but it's always kept balanced in a way that never makes it a comedy, though for a thriller it's a lot easier to watch. This is a good thing, because the chemistry between the leads is what makes this movie great, and they are both fun, real characters. John Connors might not be the most believable as a homeless man (he doesn't seem broken enough, if that makes sense), but he plays every other aspect of the role perfectly, and with a ton of heart. Young Barry Keoghan as the kid, Tommy, is just extraordinary in his portrayal. He's filled with all the teenage angst, confusion and loneliness that everyone went through, and he does it without becoming an emo-like character, he's actually a fun character too. That to me seems real, because I'm willing to bet that if you get really close to the majority of teens, they won't be a sadsack 24/7. Barry is extremely true in how he plays Tommy, it's hard to even see an actor behind the role. Tommy's mother also deserves some praise, she literally seemed broken, but again it was believable. The antagonists are rather quirky and near parodies of typical movie thugs, but it sort of works because it's a fun movie to begin with. Only the main drug lord gets too much at times, and the few times where it took me out of the movie it was due to him. It's still not too bad though.
"Stalker" is a movie that's easy to just sit down and watch. You easily catch on and you like the characters, but the more you watch it the sadder and darker it gets. The more you find out about the characters, the more twisted the movie seems. There are many taboo subjects without threading onto exploitation, but it's certainly not the nice, calm movie it starts out as. That's a good thing, I love it when a movie can take me on a ride while I also wholeheartedly like and sympathize with characters.
There's a ton to enjoy in "Stalker". It's extremely fun and entertaining while also going down a dark path that definitely pays off in a twisted way. Most of the characters are spot on. Especially John Connors and Barry Keoghan make this movie an unusual experience, at times very real. It's a buddy movie about two sad lives and it drags you into the dirt with them, but the payoff makes it all worth it. This festival winner will be hitting Irish cinemas at the end of February, and if any Irish people read our reviews then you really should do yourself a favor and check it out.