Kneecap is an energetic movie that captures the spirit of freedom and mixes political themes with entertainment that audiences will love. This film, set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is a fictional version of how the Irish rap group Kneecap came to be. The group’s members, Liam Og O hannaidh, Naoise O Cairealláin, and JJ O Dochartaigh, play themselves in the movie.
The film highlights the importance of the Irish language, which is central to Kneecap’s music. Director Rich Peppiatt, who is British, has made sure the film stays true to this aspect. The Irish language once banned and only officially recognized in the U.K. in 2022, is a significant part of Irish identity and culture, especially as a symbol of resistance against British rule.
“The Imaginary” joins the list of Irish-language films, much like the Oscar-nominated “The Quiet Girl.” These films are part of Ireland’s effort to promote and preserve the Irish language, which about 80,000 people speak.
The story focuses on Liam and Naoise, childhood friends who sell drugs and are involved in various antics, including rapping. Naoise, whose father was an important member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), is filled with a sense of revolution and anger. Liam, on the other hand, is torn about his relationship with a Protestant girl. Their rap songs, a mix of Irish and English, reflect their youthful rebellion and criticism of authority.
The film’s style is unique, with Liam narrating the story. It includes dream-like sequences depicting their drug-induced experiences. When they run into trouble with the law, they meet JJ, a calm Irish language teacher who joins their group as the third member, DJ Provaí. On stage, JJ wears a mask with the Irish flag colors and becomes a bold performer.
“Kneecap” is a vibrant film with animated parts and a claymation scene following the group’s rise from local bars to big venues. The group faces challenges from a determined police officer and confrontations with R-RAD, a group against drugs but politically aligned with them.
While some visual techniques in the film, like fast-forward scenes, might not be very original, the energetic acting of the rappers and the dynamic cinematography make it stand out. The film’s ending is uplifting and in contrast with other films about Northern Ireland, like Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast.
Michael Fassbender plays a small but important role as Naoise’s father, Arlo. His character highlights the significance of Kneecap’s rise to fame and its potential impact on the Irish language and culture.
'Kneecap' Sundance Review: Members of the subversive Irish-language hip hop group play themselves in this anarchic origin story which is "a riot" says Fionnuala Halligan. #Sundance https://t.co/Q1P6q7NmCA
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Kneecap is not just entertaining; it also makes you think. It shows how the Irish language and culture can be preserved and promoted through modern pop culture, moving away from past extremism. The film suggests that every Irish word spoken is a form of resistance, making Kneecap’s music a powerful tool in this ongoing struggle. Source