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Review: The Irish comedy ‘The Holy Fail’ lacks charm and likable main characters

(L-R)- Owen Dara, Sean McNally, Jessica Lancaster and Stephen Wyley in a scene from “The Holy Fail.”
Owen Dara, left, Sean McNally, Jessica Lancaster and Stiofan Wyley in “The Holy Fail.”
(Indie Rights)

Committing the cardinal sin of neglecting to make its romantic leads sympathetic, “The Holy Fail” is a particularly charmless Irish comedy about a young couple who commit a robbery in a bid to put the spark back into their troubled marriage.

Things aren’t going quite as Brendan (the film’s writer-director Owen Dara) and his American wife, Nicole (his real-life partner Jessica Lancaster), had envisioned when the Cork couple originally tied the knot not all that long ago.

Contentedly working as a TV salesman while Nicole, a budding inventor, has been biding her time waiting on tables, obsessive-compulsive Brendan seizes the opportunity to help his buddy Colm (Stiofan Wyley) crack a safe to prove he can be spontaneous.

But while successfully pulling off the actual heist, they and their friends don’t exactly make a clean getaway, having averted the suspicions of the intrepid Sister Assumpta (Mairin Prendergast).

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Perhaps he was too distracted by wearing so many hats (Dara also performs the self-penned “Once”-style ditties on the twee soundtrack), but both he and Lancaster didn’t bother to imbue their sketchy characters with sufficient likability.

That absence of greater personal stakes gives the audience scant reason to care about their predicament, with the bulk of the comedic heavy lifting going to Prendergast’s no-nonsense nun and cherubic character actor Kevin McCormack (“The Lobster”) as a prankster of a policeman.

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‘The Holy Fail’

Not rated

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Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood

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