SOMETIMES, silence speaks louder than words, and no better phrase can describe the effects of Pilgrim Hill.
From the opening scenes the film moves at an extremely slow pace.
We watch the forty-something farmer Jimmy Walsh (Mullins) at work in the fields; fixing the fences, milking the cows, painting the house and carrying out everyday farming jobs.
He is out in the fields alone all day, and only has the cows as company.
He even often manages not to meet anyone for a few days in a row.
The film is shot in parts like a documentary, with Jimmy speaking to the cameraman about his everyday life, his various jobs on the farm, how he cares for his father who survived a stroke, how his mother committed suicide while he was a child, and how he feels about working on the farm and living as a bachelor.
He speaks of his regret for not standing up to his father to stay with the woman that he loved, and how he would love to just get away from it all but feels that he has no other job prospects because he has no qualifications and farming is all that he knows.
These scenes are extremely engaging as we hear of Jimmy’s life story, his thoughts – which sometimes are of him thinking aloud to himself, and his feelings about his life.
They also make Jimmy seem like a real-life person, and we develop a feeling of sympathy and understanding for what he is going through.
The slow pace helps to convey how long and lonely each day may seem to a farmer working out in the fields alone, with rare social contact.
In fact, the highlight of his weeks are a trip to the local pub for a pint of Guinness.
The setting portrays a story which is a very real representation of a sad, lonely and single farmer, and highlights how rural isolation is a reality for some in Ireland.
From the start it emphasises the theme of being along, and it is echoed throughout.
Things go from bad to worse for Jimmy as various situations in both his personal life and work life take a turn.
Like many of us experience, some problems seem to crop up all at once, and it gets a bit overwhelming for Jimmy.
His lack of hope for what lies ahead of him comes across in his tone of voice and through his eyes.
Pilgrim Hill is a moving story, and by the end of its 85 minutes, it is sure to take your breath away.
The film has won director Gerard Barrett the IFTA’s Irish Film Board Rising Star Award.
Barrett succeeds in showing the long and lonely days experienced by Jimmy, how he is finding life tough, and how various happenings can make it even harder to cope with – especially as he is alone.
Take our advice and don’t miss this film.
It may seem long, but that’s the powerful tool for the story, and it helps to make it real and relatable.