Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Dunlop 'Road' Movie Roars

Published Friday, 13 June 2014
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There is only one film to see at the cinema this week and that is the blistering new documentary Road, revealing the dramatic story of the Dunlop road-racing dynasty.

Multiple world champion Joey Dunlop, his brother Robert - and Robert's sons, William and Michael. Two generations united by success and united by loss.

"Motorcycle road racing is the most dangerous of all motor sports" explains co-director Michael Hewitt "And it has a particular place in the culture of Ireland - especially Northern Ireland. Along with the Isle of Man, it is one of the few places in the world where the sport continues to take place. Yet the story of Road is one that could be transposed to practically anywhere in the world anywhere where men participate in something extraordinarily dangerous."

Road racing is a sport that has claimed many lives over the years and continues to do so to this day. Riders compete at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour on closed country roads. Roads that on any other day service cars, buses, tractors. Roads that are lined with trees, telegraph posts and stone walls. Unforgiving obstacles when struck by the human body.

"Capturing the visceral, almost violent nature of road racing was vital for us" says Michael "We wanted the audience to share, as much as any spectator can, in the unnerving adrenalin rush that is road racing."

Road is the first feature film from Belfast filmmakers Michael Hewitt and Diarmuid Lavery, who over past twenty five years have carved out an award winning reputation with their production company Double Band Films. They have made acclaimed documentaries around the world with sporting icons like Diego Maradona.

Sharing that universal appeal, Road is not only a film about sport, it is about family. "We also wanted to capture the remarkably moving human story of the Dunlop family" explains Michael. "In that sense, Road is a film about brothers - two sets of brothers; about husbands and wives; and about mothers and sons. All set within a world that has been visited by tragedy so many times.

As a line in the film says: "Success and tragedy are divided by the narrowest of margins. That's what makes it a compelling sport. At times a cruel sport."

As the film took shape, Diarmuid and Michael knew there was only one man to narrate this story. "Liam Neeson was the right man for so many reasons," says co-director Diarmuid. "We knew, of course, that his powerful performance would draw the audience into this moving and intimate story. But beyond that he helped bring not only an international dimension to the film as well as a local connection, since he grew up just a few miles from the Dunlops' hometown."

My only advice is to bring the hankies. Road will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you punching the air with tears in your eyes.


Road (Cert 12a) opens on Friday 13th June.

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.

Twice.

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