Darndale setting delivers a dark trip through Dublin’s underbelly

by Darragh McKiernan
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The Gazette caught up with Love/Hate star John Connors recently to hear all about his team-up with director Mark O’Connor, with their third film together on course to be the Irish film of the year.

Set in Darndale, the upcoming Cardboard Gangsters follows small-time drug dealer Jay (Connors) and his gang – Cobbie (Ryan Lincoln), Dano (Fionn Walton) and Glenner (Paul Alwright) – as they plan their move into the higher ranks of the Dublin gangland scene.

Actor John Connors has an imposing presence throughout the film

Cut off from social welfare payments and with the ultimate dream of leaving the life he leads behind, Jay plans on becoming a big-time heroin dealer, with the hope of earning enough to pay off his family debts and start a new life for himself and his pregnant girlfriend (Gemma-Leah Devereux) in Spain.

However, heroin kingpin Derra Murphy (Jimmy Smallhorne) doesn’t take kindly to the idea of another competitor in the Darndale area. Combine this with Jay’s romantic fling with Derra’s wife, Kim (Kierston Wareing) and Jay’s dream suddenly looks shaky …

Co-written by Connors, the film boasts an intense, humorous and entertaining script. John’s acting talent shines throughout, as he stands out in some of the more vivid and explosive scenes.

John grew up in the Darndale area: “I grew up in the area, I’ve seen a lot of things. I always wanted to make a film about where I came from, and also how you get into that sort of life” he said.

“Instead of looking at it from a narrow point of view, just show that sometimes you’re pushed in a corner and it could be difficult.”

The film is full of young and up and coming talent. With young Irish actors like Barry Keoghan beginning to make a name for himself, it seems to be a good time for young actors to be getting involved in the Irish film scene.

John said: “There’s some amazing talent in the film – I loved it! Me and the gang had a great time together; we lived together for seven weeks.

“The casting process was a really long and drawn-out thing where we really made sure that people fought for their roles before we gave them to them.”

Director Mark O’Connor is quickly becoming one of Ireland’s finest directors. His filmography holds a number of films that fall into the crime drama genre.

Like Cardboard Gangsters, his other recent films (Between the Canals, and Stalker) depict similar scenes of Dublin’s dark criminal underbelly.

When asked what it is about these Dublin crime dramas that seems to do so well with cinemagoers, Mark said: “I suppose it’s just the connection, the criminal lifestyle that goes back to the 1920s. People get fascinated by that.

“Entering into that world … getting an insight into it is almost glamourous. You’re almost living in that world for an hour and a half; it’s kind of the fascination of it.”

The film’s energetic soundtrack contains a number of Dublin-based artists and lends a feeling of authenticity to some of the vibrant montage scenes.

Mark added: “We tried to find the soundtrack that fit Darndale. John knew some rappers, I had some ideas, and over the course of the development it was just finding the right soundtrack and then also the right composer to build the whole score and the whole sound of the film.”

Cardboard Gangsters hits cinemas on June 16.


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