In a season traditionally ruled by superheroes and mayhem, what a pleasure it is to discover a quiet, quirky little comedy like Lost and Found. In this Irish anthology of seven interconnected stories, the characters are refreshingly life-sized as their stories play out in and around the Lost and Found room at a suburban Irish train depot.
It was written and directed by Liam O Mochain, who also gives himself the featured role of Daniel, a new hire on the job whose story threads in and out of all the others. Unlike other anthology stories like The Red Violin or The Yellow Rolls Royce, the narrative doesn’t revolve around the fortunes of a single item as it passes from one owner to the next. Rather, it centers on a handful of people going about their daily lives, whose small interactions gradually knit the larger story together.
Daniel works weekend nights tending bar at his uncle’s neighborhood pub. But for a day job, he applies to the Lost and Found department, a small outbuilding connected to the station. It’s his first day on the job, working alongside Joe (Brendan Conroy), a genial, feisty little leprechaun of a fellow who pretty much leaves Daniel on his own to sort out what to do with items brought in from the passing trains—everything from a wallet and jewelry to a wooden leg and a gurgling baby in a pram.
Most of the characters who figure in the later stories are introduced in this opening sequence. The movie’s segments are divided by separate titles, like short stories, and as their plots unspool, the subject matter is sometimes tragic—death, illness, loss—but the movie never loses its whimsical sense of humor as it grapples with the foibles of human nature.
In “Ticket To Somewhere,” an extremely polite yet befuddled senior (Liam Carney) gradually arouses suspicion as he haunts the platform, asking kind-heated travelers for help finding his lost ticket or his lost wallet so he can visit his ailing wife (and/or daughter) in hospital. It turns out to be a very moving story, especially when ticket-taker Moya (Norma Sheahan) comes on the scene.
Wistful family drama coincides with comedy in “The Tent,” in which Daniel attempts to fulfill a promise to his aging granny. As a 7-year-old girl, she was sent out of Poland by her family and relocated to Ireland in 1939. Asked to retrieve a childhood bracelet she had to bury in the backyard before she left, Daniel sets out to camp overnight in a field now belonging to a hospitable but understandably bewildered German couple.
In the funniest story, “The Proposal,” Daniel’s friend Gabriel (Seamus Hughes) plots a romantic vacation with his girlfriend Sile (Aoibhin Garrihy). But the details are top secret—he’s planning to pop the question in mid-flight—so even Sile doesn’t know where they’re going. And Gabriel’s desperate and increasingly futile attempts not to let anyone spoil the surprise—neither ticket clerk nor airport security—leads to a mounting cascade of comic catastrophes.
Another comic highlight is “Bar Makeover.” It’s the saga of Daniel’s slow-burning Uncle Podge (a very funny and irascible Donncha Crowley) and his dogged attempts to lure elusive customers by repeatedly changing his decor—from Tiki bar to Asian to Australian (renamed “Skippy’s,” with a kangaroo logo and an endless loop of “Tie Me Kangaroo Down” on the jukebox). He does finally fill the place up, but not in the way he expected.
Other stories concern a will and a wedding, but no spoilers here about those. Filmmaker O Mochain is a personable onscreen presence as Daniel, game in the face of whatever absurdity comes his way. He and the rest of this very deft cast—along with a buoyant, almost Klezmer-like soundtrack—keep things rolling along.