- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 10, 2001

A minor monstrosity of a sex farce, "When Brendan Met Trudy" sounds like a variation on "When Harry Met Sally."

Fleeting re-enactments are part of the jocose agenda, starting with "Sunset Boulevard." This movie evidently prompted writer Roddy Doyle to introduce his ostensible hero, a shy Dublin high school teacher named Brendan (Peter McDonald), with his face buried in a rain puddle on the pavement.

As a soundtrack presence, this drenched and recumbent figure echoes William Holden's opening postmortem narration from the Billy Wilder classic. Face down, Brendan invites a flashback to a whirlwind romance that began six months earlier.

The plot suggests a haphazard reprise of "Something Wild" or "Kitten With a Whip," or any other prototype about a mild-mannered guy taken for a ride by a shameless hussy, while alluding to "Breathless," "The Quiet Man," "Babe," "The Song of Bernadette," "Once Upon a Time in the West," "Flipper," "Titanic," "The Searchers" and "The African Queen" — as well as Emma Thompson and Jackie Chan — in part to validate Brendan as a movie buff.

Flora Montgomery plays the hussy who sweeps Mr. McDonald off his clueless feet. Called Trudy, she accosts Brendan in a pub and claims to be a fellow pedagogue. But she emerges as a carnal powerhouse and potential slave driver.

For a while Mr. Doyle teases us with the hint that Trudy is homicidal, a mysterious serial seducer and castrator of unwary men reported on alarmist news broadcasts.

Alas, this "I Married an Axe Murderer" variation gets short shrift, depriving Miss Montgomery of a disreputable coup. Ending the tease, Mr. Doyle identifies Trudy as merely an oversexed burglar. Her notion of happiness would be complete if Brendan agreed to be a steady accomplice as well as bed partner. Since he appears quite hapless in the classroom, nothing stands in the way of felonious bliss.

The slap-happy hedonism is so exaggerated that an element of ambiguity intrudes on the misadventures of Trudy and Brendan: Could the filmmakers be mocking Hollywood drivel about free-spirited criminal exuberance rather than embracing it? Probably not, but it's a little difficult to believe that Mr. Doyle is as sold on stupidity as he pretends to be in this capricious groaner.

Americans may be fascinated in a slightly mind-boggled way by Miss Montgomery's facial resemblance to Ellen DeGeneres. If someone perversely arranges an introduction, the mirror-image effect could be shattering, especially for the senior participant. Watching them matched as wayward daughter and mother might be one for the books.{*}TITLE: "When Brendan Met Trudy"RATING: No MPAA Rating (adult subject matter and lewdly facetious treatment, consistent with the R category; occasional profanity, sexual candor and comic vulgarity; nudity and simulated intercourse)CREDITS: Directed by Kieron Walsh; written by Roddy Doyle; cinematography by Ashley Rowe; production design by Fiona Daily; costume design by Consolata Boyle; and music by Richard HartleyRUNNING TIME: 95 minutes


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