Director: Enzo D’Alò
Screenplay: Enzo D’Alò, Dave Ingham
Based on the novel by: Roddy Doyle
Producers: Adrien Chef, Paul Thiltges
Starring: Sharon Horgan, Mia O’Connor, Rosaleen Linehan, Charlene McKenna, Brendan Gleeson
Year: 2023
Country: Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, United Kingdom
BBFC Certification: U
Duration: 85 mins

As a long-time animation enthusiast, it’s a source of shame that until now I’d never seen a film by Italian animator Enzo D’Alò. D’Alò has been directing animated features since the 90s, including the acclaimed Lucky and Zorba, Momo and the 2012 version of Pinocchio. While I’ve somehow managed to miss them all, after watching D’Alò’s latest film I’m very keen to catch up with his earlier work too. An adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s children’s novel of the same name, A Greyhound of a Girl is a beautifully animated tale of a girl coming to terms with change and loss, adapted by D’Alò and Dave Ingham with great sensitivity and sincerity. A deeply human story with fantasy elements that can be taken as allegorical or literal, the film also uses various different animation styles, with the hugely appealing and colourful style of the main narrative supplemented by dream sequences rendered as sketchy workprints and rich, dark hand-drawn visions. The tone of the film incorporates several different notes too but they coalesce into a wonderfully consistent depiction of life which highlights the joys and difficulties that characterise each day. As usual in mainstream reviews of animated films, comparisons have been made with Disney, Pixar and Ghibli but the immediate touchstone for me was the glorious Cartoon Saloon, whose Irishness and storybook visuals both feel like an influence on A Greyhound of a Girl, not to mention the eloquent, empathetic and accessible depiction of complex subject matter.

A Greyhound of a Girl is the story of Mary, an eleven year old girl and aspiring chef who has a special bond with her supportive and loving grandmother. When Granny falls ill and the prognosis is not good, Mary must deal with imminent changes in her life, complicated by her best friend moving away and the arrival of a mysterious stranger named Anastasia. Memories, stories and dreams converge to highlight and strengthen the bond between Mary, her mother, her grandmother and the enigmatic newcomer. A Greyhound of a Girl is filled with great characters who are more than done justice by a fine ensemble of voice actors. Brendan Gleeson is one of the most recognisable voices and his fame has ensured him top billing in promotional material but in truth A Greyhound of a Girl is very much the story of four generations of women and the focus is squarely on them. Mia O’Connor is marvellous as the determined and often blunt Mary (who regularly protests that she is “just being honest”) and the ever-reliable Sharon Horgan adds further layers to Mary’s already intricately drawn mother. Rosaleen Linehan is delightful as the grandmother. The central female relationships, which are eventually pulled together in a climactic road trip, are supported by a gallery of memorable minor characters, including the lovable but awkward Dr. Patel, a couple of snooty foodies, an over-enthusiastic psychiatrist and the male members of Mary’s family, including Gleeson’s gently witty father.

Running at a brisk 85 minutes, A Greyhound of a Girl is one of those films that is never not 100% pleasurable to be with. It is leisurely but engrossing, simple but emotionally complex, and simultaneously sad, funny and uplifting. The film was produced across seven different European countries and six separate production companies but this hasn’t affected its quality at all and those expecting a Euro-pudding will be pleasantly surprised by how strongly the film asserts its Irish heart. The Italian D’Alò has tapped into an underlying theme of identity that is strong enough to strike a chord with viewers of all nationalities and walks of life. The result is the kind of film that just makes you feel good to be alive, even as it plays on the awareness that this will not always be the case. Everything will be grand, the film tells us, and the strong work of everyone involved ensured that for 85 minutes, and the extra time I bathed in the glow of its memory, I believed it.

Dazzler Media presents A Greyhound of a Girl out now in UK and Irish cinemas


A Greyhound of a Girl
4.5Overall Score
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