2by4

"Very Good"

2by4 Review


There's a lot going on in 2by4. Writer/director/star Jimmy Smallhorne blends a sexual identity crisis with a scathing look at the experience of illegal Irish immigrants in New York City to deliver a compelling though somewhat muddled journey through dark streets, dark bedrooms, and dark bars.

Johnnie (Smallhorne), a wiry and intense construction foreman, works for his Uncle Trump (Chris O'Neill) alongside a boisterous bunch of Irish illegals who spend their spare time drinking beer, doing coke, playing poker, and slapping a field hockey ball around in the Bronx park near where they live.

A man's man for sure (well, maybe), Johnnie is appalled by the leather pants his girlfriend Maria (Kimberly Topper) buys for him, but once he tries them on and rubs his crotch a bit he's hooked and isn't afraid to wear them in front of his rowdy friends. Well aware of his charisma, he's the king of karaoke night down at the bar. His outward confidence carries him anywhere, but his emaciated state and dependence on drink and drugs suggests inner turmoil.

He makes gay jokes to Maria, but when she asks him if he's ever been with a man, he honestly mumbles "once or twice." Hmm. Johnnie has a few secrets, and in typical cinematic fashion, they're slowly revealed through a series of fuzzy nightmares, fast flashbacks, and sleepwalking episodes.

As tension rises at the construction site -- Uncle Trump has been squandering his cash rather than paying his crew -- Johnnie seeks relief from the stress by taking a walk through some very mean streets, where he encounters an Australian (!) hustler named Christian (Bradley Fitts), who takes him to a nearby crack house for a night of sex. Christian is a real mess, a rent boy who hasn't even made it to Manhattan yet, and he latches onto Johnnie, even showing up at Johnnie's house just in time for Maria to catch them in a kiss.

Any hope that 2by4 will be a moving story of a gay man coming to terms with himself goes out the window when Johnnie, in a fit of self-loathing, picks a fight in a local bodega so he can become the victim of a good old-fashioned Bronx smackdown, iron pipe included. He follows that up with a trip to a particularly freaky bar (identified in the credits as New York's legendary and now shuttered Vault), where the gay clientele look like creatures from the deepest circle of Hell.

For a small film, 2by4 benefits by having a big-time cinematographer, Declan Quinn (who's worked on everything from Leaving Las Vegas to Monsoon Wedding), to capture the grit of the tough lives of these immigrants. Some of the scenes showing the construction crew riding around in the back of a truck and gawking at the size of Manhattan's skyscrapers are reminiscent of similar scenes that Quinn shot for In America. In both cases, they succeed at conveying the dislocation and amazement that an immigrant in New York must feel.

As for triple-threat Smallhorne, he may have been a bit close to his project to see that his audience might find Johnnie's true feelings a bit unclear. You'll walk away confused, but then again, Johnnie is more than a bit confused himself, so maybe Smallhorne has achieved his desired effect after all.

Aka 2 by 4, Two by Four.



2by4

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th January 1998

Production compaines: Red Horse Films, Electric Head

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 5.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: Terry McGoff as Billy, as Johnnie Maher, Chris O'Neill as Uncle Trump, as Christian, Holyoke Joe as Joy, Michael Liebmann as Eddie, Ronan Carr as Brains, Leo Hamill as Paddy, Seamus McDonagh as Connor, Conor Foran as Paul, James Hanrahan as Taigh

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.