15 Jul 2020

Movie review: A Bump Along the Way

From At The Movies, 7:33 pm on 15 July 2020

A Bump Along The Way sees what happens when 40-something Irish party girl Pamela (played by Bronagh Gallagher) unexpectedly becomes pregnant.

Simon Morris: Northern Irish actress and singer Bronagh Gallagher has had a busy career since she burst on the scene as one of the trio of gum-chewing backing singers in The Commitments.

She's been the epitome of the colourful character actor in copious TV series, as well as films as diverse as Pulp Fiction, Star Wars and the upcoming David Copperfield.

But it's rare she gets the starring role.

Until now. The film is called A Bump Along The Way- one of those projects where the title almost counts as a spoiler.

Bronagh plays 40-something Pamela, though she prefers the Italian-sounding 'Paula' when she's out on the pull.

We meet Pam in the van of the considerably younger Barry of "Barry's Heating Services".

To be honest, he doesn't seem much of a catch. After, shall we say, love takes its course, he drops her off at the far end of her street, where the next day she has to face the wrath of her vegan teenage daughter Allegra.

Life is tough enough for Allegra. Not only is she stuck with the name "Allegra" - 'call me Allie' she says brightly, though no-one ever does - but she has to accept that her mum is common as muck.

And to prove it, Mum's just got some alarming news.

Allegra is shocked, though Pam gets some support from her best friend Sinead, and rather less help from the feckless Barry.

Pam tries to explain the circumstances of Allegra's upcoming sibling, but call-me-Allie doesn't want to know.

A bump along the way starts out as a light-hearted look at so-called "geriatric pregnancy" - the writer Tess McGowan was pregnant when she wrote it.

But while Pamela is dealing with an unexpected literal bump, her daughter is running into quite a few figurative ones.

Despite - or perhaps because - she's talented, hard-working and pretty, Allegra is being bullied at school. And like most teenagers in that situation, she tries to solve it by finding new friends and dumping her old ones.

Reinventing yourself is almost impossible in a small town like Derry, where everyone knows your - and your mother's - business.

Allegra is played by the appealing Lola Petticrew, for whom I'd love to predict future stardom except I don't want to jinx her. My hit-rate in the stardom-prediction game has been fairly dismal.

But she and Bronagh Gallagher are a delight together - rather like Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird.

And, like that film, A Bump Along The Way benefits enormously from being an almost entirely female-driven project.

It was produced by Bronagh Gallagher's sister Louise, it was written, directed, edited and scored by women, and the cast is predominantly women too.

This isn't a story about finding Mr Right, or sorting out Mr Wrong or asking any of the mostly pretty useless chaps on offer for anything. This is Pamela and Allegra's story, and it's their relationship that brings everything to a satisfying - if non-vegan - conclusion.

Okay, there are no car-chases - travel in Derry is mostly by bus. Prince Charming is conspicuous by his absence. And the final clinch is more of a group hug at a family get-together.

But it's good crack, as you'd expect from Ireland, and Bronagh and Lola are having such a great time you'd have to be an eejit not to share in it

And having negotiated the bumps along the way, we got there in the end.

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to At The Movies

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)