Rialto – a lifetime of emotional repression released


Rialto is released nationwide on the 2nd of October.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Peter Mackie Burns, Rialto, offers us a stunning and nuanced journey into repression, guilt, belonging, and identity through the complex relationship between a teenage rent boy and a father whose life is spiralling out of control. Both men sit on the verge of society, one through hardship and the other through repression. Colm (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) has spent his life working the docks of Dublin, his very existence ground into the fabric of the containers he cares for, each steel unit symbolic of a life lived in steel-clad emotional boxes.

Following the death of his controlling father, a man he could never please, and the growing risk of redundancy, Colm’s sense of detachment and insecurity is heightened as alcohol becomes a crutch. Seeking a moment of danger and rare sexual expression, Colm arranges a secret toilet rendezvous with a local rent boy called Jay (Tom Glynn-Carney). However, as he shuffles into the cubicle with the blond-haired boy, fear and apprehension surround him as sex dissolves into a sea of apologies and regret. Stumbling out from the anxiety-filled rendezvous, Colm drops his wallet, and the savvy young hustler seizes the opportunity to scam Colm for extra money.

However, what starts as an opportunistic way to make extra money for Jay soon becomes an unlikely relationship of convenience as the two men become a crutch for one another, their meetings morphing into an exploration of masculinity, attachment and sexual risk as Colm pays for Jay’s honesty and support. At the same time, Jay finds himself an unsuspecting therapist.

Based on the stage play, Trade, Mark O’Halloran’s screenplay offers an intimate character-driven study of a man on the verge of emotional collapse as Colm finds an urgent connection in the arms of a teenage hustler. Burns creates an environment where the sexuality of Jay and Colm is less important than their need for belonging and security, their home lives full of dysfunction, lies and carnage. While Colm screams for escape, despite a loving wife (Monica Dolan) and kids, Jay longs to be allowed back into the life of his girlfriend and their newborn daughter. The relationship between both men is one of confusion, mutual support and therapy at a price as fears and long-held secrets emerge from the depths of the male mind.

Rialto leaves us with the thin strand of hope that Colm may find the inner peace needed to rebuild his life. However, the tumultuous events preceding the final explosive scenes highlight that this process has only just begun as Colm’s family life comes crashing down around him.

Director: Peter Mackie Burns

Cast:  Tom Vaughan-LawlorTom Glynn-CarneyMonica Dolan

Ireland (2019)

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