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Tarrac (2023): Film Review

Shot in a beautiful setting, Tarrac is a moving and heartwarming tale of grief, family, and community when challenges arise. 

With a moving story that explores the characters’ respective backgrounds, Tarrac is a film that depicts the daily life of normal people who want to make an impact on their community. It also gives us an insight into the tough world of Naomhóg women racing in Ireland, as well as showing its audience the beautiful scenery of the Irish coast. Despite knowing where the film was going from the first act, the characters are so fascinating that the movie still grabbed my attention until the very end, also thanks to its excellent pacing in the last act.

Tarrac is set in Ireland on the coastline of Kerry, as Aoife (Kelly Gough) comes back to her small town to visit and care for her dad, Bear (Lorcan Cranitch), after he suffers from a heart attack. The two struggle to bond and even have a proper talk at first, as Aoife has been away for so long, living in Dublin as a management consultant whose life is nothing but work. But this is about to change as she starts training with the local women’s rowing team, made up of Jude (Kate Nic Chonaonaigh), a mother of three, Aisling (Kate Finegan), a failed actress who works at the local pub, and Naomi (Rachel Feeney), a young talented woman who dreams of the Olympics.

Tarrac is at its best when it focuses on the relationships between the characters, particularly that of Aoife and her father. When I started watching the film, I desperately wanted to see more of their relationship: while it is established in one of the very first scenes of the movie, it is only thoroughly explored in the final act as the two finally learn how to talk to each other. During the film, someone tells Aoife that she is the image of her late mother, which is just one of the many ways in which she keeps being reminded of her from the moment she came back to her childhood home.

Tarrac is also a beautiful portrayal of friendship, especially as it shows the bond developing between the four women that make up the crew. Despite the dialogue feeling forced at the beginning, each of the four women is thoroughly explored during the film. We learn more about each of their backstories and struggles as their bond in the movie develops further in the movie. As the film stars, we see them moving on from strangers who practice together as they become a beautiful depiction of sisterhood and community in the crew training after training and race after race.

loud and clear reviews Tarrac film movie 2023
Tarrac (Parkland Entertainment)

The film also portrays racing well as it manages to keep our attention throughout, even for those of us in the audience who may not be as familiar with the sport as the characters in the film are. At first, Tarrac may feel a little slow but its training montages and final race scene both allow the film to increase its pace and keep the tension going until the very last frame. I found it impressive how the film makes us understand the stakes of the rowing competition as the commentator runs us through the key elements of the race.

I particularly enjoyed the use of the Irish language, which is something we don’t often get to see and hear in films, even those set in Ireland. The portrayal of Ireland is also beautiful to see on screen. Just like Aoife is re-discovering the place that was her childhood home, we also discover the beauty of coastal Kerry as the film progresses. In this sense, Tarrac shows the feeling of going back to the place you grew up in years after you moved out really well with a few important details, such as the light-up stars on the ceiling of her bedroom, that constantly remind us – and Aoife – herself that this is the childhood home she grew up in.

Tarrac is a beautifully shot film that portrays both the charm and the reality of a small coastal town in Ireland with its stunning scenery, which the movie shows from the very beginning with its opening scene. It also portrays the competitiveness of a sport many people have probably not heard about before. It is a moving story of an underdog team that the audience cannot help but root for: as we get to know the characters in the film, we start caring for them and want to see them accomplish all their dreams and succeed.

Tarrac will be released in UK cinemas from 8 December, 2023.

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