The Drummer and The Keeper

Contemporary World Cinema | 2017 | 93 minutes

Stranger Says:

A sweet but predictable story about the friendship between a guy with Asperger’s syndrome and a cool-kid drummer with bipolar disorder and a serious case of pyromania. It’s nice to watch a film about people with mental illness that doesn’t treat them like unlikely wizards or charity cases. But, with the exception of the actor who plays the Asperger character, the acting is pretty dreadful. The mélange of Irish accents and the long shots of dewy emerald fields weren’t charming enough to save it. I spent most of the time tamping down my jealousy of the European health care system.

This is the Kirkland Opening Night film.

SIFF Says:

Gabriel is a talented yet troubled drummer for an up-and-coming Dublin rock band. But after years of impulsive, self-destructive behavior, he is diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic and delusional episodes, the same disease from which his deceased mother suffered. His bandmates, with assistance from his sister, give Gabriel an ultimatum—seek treatment now. Along with new medications, his therapist prescribes physical activity, specifically to join a weekend mixed-ability soccer team. It’s during his first outing on the pitch where he meets Christopher, a 17-year-old with Asperger’s Syndrome, obsessed by goalkeeping and all the statistics associated with it. Christopher latches on to Gabriel, despite the latter’s rather cool reception, forging a tenuous bond. But Gabriel and his bandmates soon discover Christopher to be quite useful, particularly for an indie outfit in need of a roadie. However, while Christopher revels in the new freedom and worldliness he’s discovered, Gabriel wrestles with the mind-numbing side effects of his new medication. In his first feature film, director Nick Kelly—whose own son is on the autistic spectrum—fearlessly tackles the difficult struggles of mental health patients with a poignant and comic sensibility that never slips into the maudlin to create a charming bro-com between two odd and lonely souls.

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Film Credits
Nick Kelly
Dermot Murphy, Jacob McCarthy, Peter Coonan
SIFF 2018