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

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

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.