Irish novelist John Butler makes his feature-film directing debut with this hilarious and heartwarming comedy, in which a bachelor party weekend in the great outdoors takes some unexpected detours.

Discovery

The Stag

John Butler

No one makes a less likely candidate for a wild stag party than Fionnan (Hugh O'Conor), a set designer so comfortable in his masculinity that he feels no shame in micromanaging the decor for his forthcoming wedding. But his adoring fiancée, Ruth (Amy Huberman), feels that Fionnan really needs to cut loose in one last bachelor's hurrah with his mates. She recruits Davin (Andrew Scott), Fionnan's best friend — and her ex — to make the arrangements. The gents opt for a camping trip, but what promises to be a leisurely weekend of fresh air and some light hiking is about to get a major dose of testosterone. The Machine (Peter McDonald), Ruth's notoriously obnoxious brother, is determined to tag along.

The Stag is the feature debut from Irish novelist John Butler. At once ribald and heartwarming, this thoughtful comedy asks whether the film's titular ritual still has any meaning in an age of sensitive men who talk about feelings and wear penguin-print sweaters — and the answer is a resounding "yes!" The sojourn takes many unexpected detours, prompted by drugs, masturbation, an electric fence, an unexpected fire, a singalong, and a nocturnal naked whooping ritual that plays out like a parody of Iron John-style male bonding.

Old friendships will be fortified, new ones will be forged, and a spate of boyish behaviour will prove to help these men become a little more mature. Finely textured performances and the beauty of the Irish countryside combine with Butler's assured direction, culminating in a fun, hilarious and ultimately very moving experience.

MICHÈLE MAHEUX

Screenings

Sun Sep 08

Scotiabank 7

Industry
6:30pm
Tue Sep 10

Scotiabank 2

Regular
8:00pm
Thu Sep 12

Scotiabank 11

Industry
10:00am
Thu Sep 12

Scotiabank 2

Regular
2:15pm
Fri Sep 13

Scotiabank 13

Regular
9:30pm