“Red Roses and Petrol” focuses on an Irish family coming together after the father (Malcolm McDowell) has died. Gathering at their mother’s house for the wake, two sisters and an alky brother wind up pissing each other off rather than comforting one another. Old wounds are re-opened and secrets and lies are exposed. It’s another lovely family reunion at the Doyle household. During a post screening Q & A of “Red Roses and Petrol,” director Tamar Simon Hoffs (“The Allnighter”) commented something to the effect of all of us having some sort of familial strife to deal with and this film is a reflection of that. I’ll buy that, but if we all have to deal with these annoyances in our lives, what’s going to make us want to watch them acted out for us on screen? Great characters we can empathize with is one thing and perhaps another is to push the situation so far that it becomes ludicrous. “Red Roses and Petrol” offers neither of these traits.
Despite the family’s insistence throughout the film that they have more problems than other families do, we’re simply presented with a typical screaming and shouting match between siblings as they try, in a roundabout way, to get their mother to see the light about her husband’s extra-marital monkey business, or maybe she’ll discover something in the stack of video diaries Dad left behind. Will she find out? Did she know all along? Does she care? Do you care? Probably not.
Thank Christ for Max Beesley, however. He plays brother Johnny Doyle and supplies just the right amount of drunken jackassery to keep the viewer watching. But in the end, nothing is really revealed about the family other than the fact that they can’t stand each other’s company. We only skim the surface of what these characters are about and the secrets and mysteries revealed are nothing Earth shattering. I’d rather just sit in on one of my own families squabbles; we’re much more entertaining.
Bottom line, what I took away from this movie was – that drunk guy sure was funny.