Love/Hate gang too good looking for menaceOctober 12, 2010 - 8:01am
Year after year RTÉ has an admirable habit of turning out really classy dramas – think Father and Son, Raw, Pure Mule and the rest – and they’ve come tantalisingly close to doing it again with Love/Hate, a stylish production that lifts the lid on Dublin’s underworld.
Written by Stuart Carolan – one-time producer of Eamon Dunphy’s show on Today FM, a presenter who knows a thing or two about cocaine himself – this is a four-parter on Monday nights that’s now halfway through its run.
And while the plot is excellent and the setting itself is authentic, the cast are so good looking they might as well be from Glee – because this is gangland via Hollywood, a sort of Miami Vice take on Dublin’s drugs scene.
You have to get over the fact that most of the cast wouldn’t threaten a stray cat on a front wall – and having suspended that side of your brain, you can immerse yourself in a drama that carries plenty of intrigue and suspence.
It’s the story of Darren Treacy, a young fella who did a runner from Dublin just before a gun is found in his house. He’s been hiding out in Spain but comes home when his brother Robbie is released from prison – only for the brother to be murdered within an hour of his freedom.
If Robert Sheehan has a fault as Darren, it’s that he’s far too handsome to be a thug from the wrong side of the tracks – he looks more like a wannabe rock star than a thug and, despite his best efforts, he carries about as much real menace as a nun.
Equally, his one-time girlfriend Rosie (Ruth Negga) falls into the same category – far too beautiful to be a gangster’s moll, much too articulate to be a scum bag and as ill at ease in the criminals’ watering holes as a Taoiseach at a Pioneers convention.
That said, this is a gritty drama and gangland boss John Boy Power – played by the Wire’s Aidan Gillen – carries enough threat for an entire cast, surrounded by the sort of half-wits you’d associate with the drugs scene and Dublin’s gangland.
On one hand you have Darren’s search for his Robbie’s killer – another local hood, Jimmy Byrne, is the initial subject, not least because he seems to have done a runner – and on the other there’s his efforts to reconcile his feelings for Rosie, who he left without telling and who is now living with (and pregnant by) another gang member called Stephen ‘Stumpy’ Doyle.
Darren’s sister Mary (Ruth Bradley) is one of those good lookers as well who would have enjoyed a more comfortable life if she was born a few streets further south, and it is inadvertently her fault that the brother took the bullet because she was in bed with Tommy, the gangster who was critically late when he was supposed to collect him from the prison gates.
This week saw Darren on Jimmy Byrne’s trail, but at the same time slipping back into working for gangland boss John Boy Power.
For more, read this week's Connacht Sentinel.