GFF Review: Lakelands


Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney


Éanna Hardwicke, Danielle Galligan, Lorcan Cranitch, Gary Lydon, Dafhyd Flynn, Dara Devaney, Oisin Robbins and Lesley Conroy



The story follows Cian, a footballer who gets attacked on a night out and how he struggles to come to terms with his career-ending injury.


Lakelands is written and directed by Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney, making their first feature following their previous shorts Angels Guard Thee and Drifting. Set in Ireland, the film follows Cian Reilly, a young man who is the son of a farmer and the star player for the local football team (or Gaelic football outside of these shores). An evening out in the town with his friends ends with Cian being brutally beaten up by three men in a nightclub alley. Brushing off the injuries as nothing serious, Cian is forced to concede that his injuries could be life-changing.

Lakelands certainly captures the small Irish town life superbly here through the eyes of Cian. Cian is of an age where his life appears to be laid out for him in the town for the rest of his life: work on the farm in the mornings, play for the local club in the evenings and, against the wishes of the coach, head out with the team for a ‘few’ pints in the town. But the film places us in Cian’s shoes and asks what would you do if you’re told that this roadmap of your life can no longer exist? The film tackles issues of identity and self-reflection of loss, be it a family member or the sense that any attempts of having another life have simply passed by. This is particularly focused on with the friendship between Cian and Grace, who has just returned from London to help look after her ill father. Whilst Cian is told to rest and avoid any heavy exercises and football, he seems content enough to keep up with the drinking culture outside of the club, but in the silence there appears to be more thoughts and lingering doubts of what could’ve been when talking to Grace, who is happy to see that he has not changed who he is, as she feels alienated about meeting up with her friends circle and believes maybe she’s been gone too long.


It’s a film that relies pretty much on its lead and I though Éanna Hardwicke gave a great performance from what was required of him in the role of Cian. He has certain moments in the film where he will put out a cheeky grin, or even as something as simple as provide a nod, but you can feel the emotion of what his character is really going through in these moments. Danielle Galligan also gives a really good performance as Grace, in particular with a monologue that she gives during the final act. The two share great chemistry together and I found their final scene to be impactful and refreshing. I haven’t been familiar with their previous shorts, but as feature debuts go, Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney have certainly shown promise here with how they place the viewer in Cian’s predicament, and the cinematography work by Simon Crowe and the score composed by Daithi O’Dronai are also worth noting here too.


The only thing I can see serving as a negative for the film is that some viewers will perhaps find it too slow a burn, and that the story can be somewhat repetitive with Cian repeating the same routine whilst someone is trying to give him some advice on what to do, and it focuses a lot more on not being melodramatic, focusing on what goes unsaid in particular moments. Admittedly, I do partially wished that we got more interaction being Cian and his father (played by the every reliable Lorcan Cranitch).



Lakelands is a subtle directorial feature from Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney, with a captivating lead performance from Éanna Hardwicke and support from Danielle Galligan.