Not every boat was lifted by the Celtic Tiger economy. In "W.C.," the low key, but thoroughly likeable new Irish film by writer and director Liam O Mochain, it’s the people who work unseen and underpaid who are his subjects.
At first glance the subject matter may make you wonder – after all, "W.C." is set in and around the male and female toilets of an upscale Dublin jazz bar. As pitches to major studios go, a drama concerning the trials and tribulations of two lowly paid toilet attendants and the people they serve is probably a long shot, but the director persevered.
Because O Mochain stayed true to his vision he has produced something rather rare: a convincing contemporary portrait of Irish lives lived on the margins. For that achievement alone his film deserves to be seen and appreciated. Wage slavery and human trafficking are hot button issues, and O’Mochain directs sensitively, outlining the harsher realities that help prop up the booming Irish economy.
As with most challenging cinematic auteur working on a shoestring, other cultures have recognized his talent long before his own country has. W.C has won audience choice awards at several U.S. film festivals (it even won Best Foreign Film at the Las Vegas Film Festival) but O’Mochain can find neither support not backing in the closed shop that is Ireland.
“People don’t see or notice marginal lives, people who work in these low paid jobs," O Mochain told IrishCentral.
"In writing the script I was inspired by Colin Farrell’s film 'Phone Booth,' which was set in one place. In the toilets of a bar you’re going to have lots of characters coming in and out. But by the end we filmed in 17 locations, so you’re not actually going to get bored in the one place.”
The film is seen from the perspective of the male and female toilet attendants, which is revolutionary enough in itself, and the whole tale unfolds over 24 hours.
Jack (O Mochain himself) is a sweet guy who just did jail time for pilfering from dad, and Katya (Julia Wakeham of The Tudors) needs to escape the prostitution ring she got lured into. Jack is the club owner’s son, Katya is an illegal Russian immigrant – and both, through vastly different circumstances, are forced to work.
“Jack is working until he pays off the money he stole from his Father and Katya is escaping a brothel (the brothel scenes were filmed in a priest's house whilst he was on vacation and blissfully oblivious of what was going on). Both of them are trying to get back on the rails and both find solace in each other.”
In addition to O Mochain and Wakeham, "W.C." also stars Adam Goodwin of "My Boy Jack," Julie Hale of "Ash Wednesday" and "My Left Foot," Mary Murray of "The Magdalene Sisters," Karl Shields of "Batman Begins" and "Eden" and Rory Mullen of "Hunger."
“W.C.” is available in the U.S. on Cable VOD on the Cinetic Film Buff channel.