Like the start of countless other films, it is the death of a family member that marks the beginning of a new life for Donal (Domhnall Gleeson), the unlucky in love Irish guy who seems to lack certain social skills when approaching the opposite sex, and he is soon thrust into a seedy world that would undoubtedly disappoint his deceased father. After inheriting the grounds of his father's farm, and a few animals to go with it, Donal is soon in talks with local businessmen and it is not long before he is carrying around a sizeable wad of money, and it is with this cash that his connection with a certain call-girl begins to blossom.
From the moment the film begins it is clear that there is an underlying vein of black humour which peppers the script with amusing scenes but these are few and far between, and as the serious nature of the story does not quite have the desired effect of moving the audience, Sensation fails to be more than a less impressive Irish version of Risky Business. Having said that, there are a number of characters whose reliance on Irish charm does make the film worth watching, and the metamorphosis of Donal's character from closet sexual deviant to a full blown pimp makes for an interesting if hackneyed character arc.
Tom Hall's direction shows promise but cannot hide the story's shortcomings, there are few redeeming features about Donal and his actions, and as such it is difficult to empathise with the main character. Likewise, his cocky companion Karl does bring some light entertainment with the choice conversations he has with females but other than this there are few signs of a human side that the audience could relate to. The Sensual call-girl Kim finds it easy to manipulate Donal and whereas we should be feeling disheartened by his treatment, the fact that he fails to listen to his inner doubts means that it is his foolish nature that is to blame for the troubles he encounters later on in the film and the audience are likely to be indifferent to the outcome.
The prospects of a great film are all there - with the first few scenes riveting me firmly to my seat - it is just a shame that the story tails off and fails to deliver on what is initially a very intriguing premise. At one point there is even some seemingly unnecessary animal cruelty which takes place off screen but is likely to upset even the most hardy of viewers and once again does no favours for the perpetrator in the eyes of the audience.
If Tom Hall's decision was to create a film full of (mostly) unlikeable characters that meander from one situation to the next then he has succeeded but writing this review a mere three days after my viewing and being unable to clearly remember the ending indicates that Sensation may struggle to find an appreciative audience. My attention was fixed firmly on the film throughout but as I did not, in fact could not, care for the majority of the characters it failed to leave a lasting impact on me and while those interested in Irish films or indeed films about call girls may enjoy Sensation more than me, I imagine it will largely be forgotten about in a few months time.
Sensation is available to buy now on DVD through element pictures