Eat the Peach takes place in a depressed and depressing Irish town. The movie opens with the local plant shutting down, leaving everyone out of work. One day local boys Vinnie (Stephen Brennan) and Arthur (Eamon Morrissey) are sitting around the pub, watching the Elvis movie Roustabout. Seeing the Wall of Death in the movie inspires Vinnie to build his own. The Wall of Death is a big round thing that you ride your motorcycle around until you are riding sideways on the wall… for those not in the know.
Vinnie lives with his wife and daughter in a small house on the edge of a big field where lots of big farm machinery rolls by, but nothing seems to grow. This is the perfect place for Vinnie to build his own Wall of Death. There are some cute scenes where he and Arthur scientifically calculate the parameters of the wall using random equipment lying around in the field. At first Vinnie’s wife, Nora (Catherine Byrne) is annoyed with the whole thing and leaves him. After Vinnie and Arthur get a job hauling loads for a local smuggler she returns (because a husband employed in illegal activities is better than an unemployed husband) and becomes enthusiastic about the project. Boots (Niall Toibin), a muscle man for the smuggler, offers to help them get publicity and sponsorship for their project.
The movie has lots of quiet scenes where we watch the guys build the wall or watch Vinnie interacting with his family. I liked that we just see them going about their business in a natural way, and the Wall of Death is cool. But Vinnie has terrible luck and unrealistic expectations. I felt that the theme of two ordinary men chasing their dreams against all odds was way too heavy handed. The setting is so bleak, it looks like main the industry in the area is growing dirt and smuggling. But Vinnie, Arthur, Boots and the rest of them will survive because they are so gosh darned plucky.
To be fair, I think I missed a lot of nuances in the movie because I’m an American who doesn’t know much about Ireland in the 80’s. I don’t know why they were smuggling consumer goods from one town to another. And there is something about Boots’ accent that went right over my head. Maybe if you are into the Wall of Death and understand the setting you will like the movie. Otherwise you may have my reaction, which was ‘meh’.
A lot of good things come out of Ireland (Guinness and The Corrs come to mind) however, Eat the Peach isn’t one of them.
I do applaud the spirit of the film: two average working class Joes pursue their dream. These Joes set out to build said dream right in their own back yard. I’ve often looked at my own back yard and envisioned a motocross track or trials course, but never a Wall of Death. To each his own, I guess. (If you ever do get a chance to see a Wall of Death performance, you owe it to yourself to do so as I’m not sure how many of them are still in operation).
But there are things I could never understand about the film. I could never understand why Arthur is reduced to riding a wee Honda ATC (he looks like a bear on a tricycle) while Vinnie tools around on a bigger Honda dual-sport. I could never understand Boots’ accent. And I could never understand how I could watch an Irish film without having some tasty Guinness beer on hand.