Life’s a Breeze (2013)

The search for a wayward mattress becomes a journey of self-discovery

Photo of Kelly Thornton and Fionnula Flanagan in "Life's a Breeze"

Kelly Thornton and Fionnula Flanagan in "Life's a Breeze"


Irish teen Emma (Kelly Thornton) has one of those odd-ball families so familiar to lovers of quirky English comedy. Emma's busy mother sends her to school with a lunch consisting of a slice of bread and a banana. Her uncle Colm (Pat Shortt) is a well intentioned, unemployed screw-up. Her widowed grandmother, Nan (Fionnula Flanagan), lives in a house littered with decades of memories: newspapers, take-out menus, phone books, knitting patterns.

Though barely scraping by, Nan's disputatious collection of daughters, son, and sons-in-law decide to do her a good turn. Uncle Colm bribes Emma to take Nan out for the day. When they return late at night, Nan's house has been given a make-over: trash hauled, rooms cleaned, appliances and furniture replaced. Nan is underwhelmed, or perhaps just flummoxed. But she does regret losing one thing ... her mattress.

Well, you can guess why. How much did she have stashed in it? Close to a million Euros.

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And so a journey begins. We see it unfold — and unravel — through Emma's eyes as the family chases various leads throughout the city and into the countryside. Their little secret isn't long in getting out, until at last they are a national laughingstock. The family will come to doubt Nan, and each other.

You can count on veteran Fionnula Flanagan to be endearing as a weary 79-year-old who is mildly embarrassed by her children. But Kelly Thornton is equally endearing as the awkward teen who is also mildly embarrassed by her family. Though separated by maybe 60 years, the two actors have a remarkable on-screen rapport, and Thornton's bemused expressions are as subtly acted as Flanagan's.

This is not a frenetic chase story in the mode of Waking Ned Devine (also featuring Flanagan), but a gentle journey of self-discovery for Emma as she comes to appreciate her family. Writer/Director Lance Daly delivers the ending you expect, but with a slightly unexpected blend of warmth and bittersweet comedy.


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