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Review: Irish indie ‘Lost & Found’ will make you smile

Liam O Mochain in a scene from “Lost & Found.” Credit: Bernard Walsh/Rialto Pictures
Writer-director Liam O Mochain co-stars in the Irish anthology film “Lost & Found.”
(Bernard Walsh / Rialto Pictures)
Film Critic

The notion that what is lost will be found has a biblical ring to it, but the charming, gently amusing Irish film “Lost & Found” says things are not always that simple.

Written and directed by Liam O Mochain, who also has a key acting role, “Lost & Found” is an anthology film, a collection of seven interconnected stories that will not fail to make you smile.

Made on a financial shoestring, the film was shot three or four days a year over a five-year period, with the writer-director spending six months of each year on research, three months on the writing and three months on the production.

Holding everything together is the genial presence of O Mohain himself, who appears in several of the stories, as do many of the other actors, as the film’s characters come in and out of one another’s lives.

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It’s a gambit calculated to make us feel like we live in the unnamed Irish small town where everything takes place and everyone knows more about everyone else’s business than they should.

“Lost & Found” begins not with a story proper but rather with a kind of framing vignette, a day in the life of the lost-and-found office of the local train station, set in a unprepossessing prefab building just outside the station itself.

O Mohain plays Daniel, a not overly ambitious young man met on his first day on the job as a member of the lost-and-found staff, reacting nervously as people dash in and out bringing in all manner of things, including an abandoned baby.

(O Mohain reports in a director’s note that he commandeered his children’s toys as lost-and-found set decoration, “which both bemused and confused my 3-year-old and 2-year-old when they visited the set.”)

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The stories that follow this introduction were all inspired by things that actually happened and connect to the title concept.

Up first is “Ticket to Somewhere,” introducing the elderly Eddie (Liam Carney) as a man who haunts the train station, asking for money so he can afford a trip to visit his wife and daughter, a trip he never seems to take no matter how many coins he collects.

Travel by a different mode figures in “The Proposal,” as Daniel’s friend Gabriel (Seamus Hughes) has a romantic getaway all planned to ask his long-time girlfriend to marry him. Unfortunately, his zeal for secrecy does not end well.

Daniel is back in the next episode, “The Tent,” where a story from his ailing grandmother, who as a child came to Ireland as part of the Kindertransport exodus from Germany, sends him on what may or may not be a wild goose chase.

“The Will,” based we’re told on an urban legend, details the unexpected things that occur in the wake of a ticket taker on the train (Norma Sheahan) making an unplanned stop at a local funeral home.

“Grand Opening” involves Daniel’s uncle Podge (Donncha Crowley), whose local pub is the one no one goes to, no matter how many changes of theme and décor he tries. Getting people to show up just might involve a sacrifice of a different kind.

The film’s closing segment, “The Wedding,” brings back Sile (Aoibhin Garrihy), a peripheral character in an earlier segment, front and center here as a woman bound and determined to get married.

All in all, the characters in “Lost & Found” are no smarter or luckier than they need to be, and their travails and coincidences manage to be just comic and human enough to make us happy for the time we spend together.

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‘Lost & Found’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Playing: Starts April 19, Laemmle Monica, Santa Monica; Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena

kenneth.turan@latimes.com

@KennethTuran


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