The commodification of the international movie market has now reached the point where a big-time Hollywood director can choose to make a cop thriller, a kiddie movie, a special-effects blockbuster…or a quaintly ”authentic” woes-of-the-common-man Irish character comedy that fetishizes its teensy-weensy austerity. Set in Belfast during the ’80s, Barry Levinson’s An Everlasting Piece is in every way dreadful — it’s a one-joke farce about toupee salesmen, and the joke is used up the moment you realize that the title is a pun on the Troubles. (It’s in the nature of puns to be bad, but not this bad.) An Everlasting Piece packages its bleak, sooty atmosphere of impoverishment, its synthetic tone of singsong mockery, as the contrived essence of elfin-coy Irish whimsy.
Barry McEvoy, who wrote the meandering script, plays Colm, a Catholic who forms a partnership with George (Brian F. O’Byrne), his Protestant coworker at a mental hospital, to take over the toupee market of Northern Ireland. During an early sales encounter, a man answers the door and thinks that they’re peddling not hairpieces but ”herpes” (are you laughing yet?). The only thing remotely genuine about An Everlasting Piece is Levinson’s bald (ha!) desire to duplicate the grosses of The Full Monty and Waking Ned Devine. Those were faux kitchen-sink fables to begin with, and this one, which is ersatz faux, hits the soggy bottom of a gifted director’s career. F — Owen Gleiberman
An Everlasting Piece STARRING Brian F. O’Byrne Barry McEvoy DREAMWORKS RATED R 105 MINUTES