A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE is a tale set in Dublin in 1963. It stars
Albert Finney in another of his wonderful performances. He makes you
feel his character's joy and his pain. Unlike his excellent role last
year in The Browning Version, this time we find him as basically a
happy and joyful character albeit one with an underlying sadness
whereas in the other show he played a sad person who repressed any
feeling of contentment.
A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE is a bus conductor (the guy who takes the
tickets). The bus in this movie is like none you have ever seen
before. It is almost reminiscent of The Magic School Bus kid's TV show
on PBS. Here the people on the bus are all regulars, and while riding,
they practice plays directed by their conductor. They have great fun
doing this--most especially Finney. Watch how much fun he is having.
It may make you want to spring into a character in the next dull
meeting you are at and start quoting lines from Oscar Wilde.
The regulars on the bus are joined by a lovely young stranger
(Tara Fitzgerald) whom Finney talks into playing the lead in Oscar
Wilde's Soleme. This is a "wicked tale" and gets Finney into trouble
with other locals. There are many other well performed feature roles
(Brenda Fricker, Michael Gambon, Rufus Swell, and Patrick Malahide) in
what is ultimately a one person tour de force.
The plot is predictable, but who cares. You really have fun
watching all of the regulars on the bus and soon you begin to feel you
are one of them. There is a key part of the rest of the movie that all
of the reviews I have seen have talked about, but I will not give it
away. You will be able to guess it early on probably. Suffice it to
say, that I think Finney is quite convincing with all parts of the
The grays and the steel blues of Dublin in the early 60s are a bit
melancholy but beautiful. As one who loves old buses, this show was a
special treat. (By the way, if you like old buses, the best museum in
the world for them is the London Transport Museum). The colors in the
cinematography were well chosen and quite evocative of the mood of the
This is not a mega movie. It is more like a little tone poem.
For what it is, it is well done. Although it is bittersweet, it is a
feel good movie. I left the theater singing the happy song from the
credits and feeling elated as if I now somehow was one of the regulars
and had some part in Soleme.
The movie is carefully edited and runs 1:38. It is rated R for a
little nudity, a little violence and adult themes. Older teenagers
could see it with no problems. I recommend this show to you and give
it ** 1/2. Although it is not popular with most critics (lots of "who
cares" and mild thumbs down), I was happy to find that one major critic
(Peter Stack of the SF Chronicle) did like it and even more than me in
that he gave it his top rating. I think the movie is good, but it is
not that good.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes