An award-winning, exhilaratingly funny coming-of-age film, Cowboys & Angels tells the witty story about two Irish lads-one straight and one gay-from their youthful career ambitions to romance to entanglements with the law.... more » Shane (Michael Legge, Angela's Ashes) is a shy civil servant striking out on his own. Vincent (Allen Leech) is a gay fashion design student looking for a roommate. When they cross paths, a friendship begins with Vincent helping pull Shane from his shell and sending him on the road to fabulousness. However, Shane becomes involved in drug running and falls for Vincent's best friend Gemma (the luminous Amy Shields).« less
Kenneth S. from PINSON, AL Reviewed on 7/5/2013...
It was OK.
I wanted a little more - just a little
Jonathan Appleseed | 02/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This could have been a great film. What took it from a great film to a good film, for me, was the drug running. I understand that there needed to be a contrivance to get Shane money that he didn't have for both art school and a turnabout from geek to cute, but I just thought there could have been something less expectant. I remember myself thinking, before the idea even came out, "God, I hope he doesn't get into drug running". Yet he did. By the way, with his hair, clothes, and everything else, I thought he was perfectly fine. A person doesn't need to be wildly fashionable to be attractive. Shane was attractive as he was.
This was such a great concept. Two guys from totally different worlds manage to find themselves in the same world, and the gay guy works a "miracle" on the straight guy to turn him into something more than he is. This too is something rather simple, but the actors made it something more. Both Vincent and Shane really turned in terrific performances. Okay, maybe not a "great" concept, but it was a concept that was acted out magnificently. Vincent and Shane were completely believable characters. At first I didn't quite buy Shane's interest in drugs at all - never mind the drug running - but when you consider his relative loneliness, it fits quite well. Vincent's hatred of drugs was a welcome compliment to that. A very welcome compliment.
There have been countless girls (Gemma) who have fallen in love with beautiful gay guys, and tried to turn them. The scene when Gemma tried to make love to Vincent was entirely believable. Even though Vincent was gay, "everybody tries it once", and he gave it his best shot. It didn't work.
There was a tension in the film that was so powerful that it made me angry that the drug running was a part of it. That was Vincent's obvious attraction to Shane. Whenever the two were shown together in their apartment, they were very close to each other, sometimes shoulder to shoulder, and on more than one occasion, Vincent had his knee on Shane's leg. I found it completely believable that Shane didn't sense Vincent's attraction to him, and when Shane was "seduced" by the drug runner and turned him away, that was believable as well. Vincent was gay. Shane was straight. I won't deny that part of me wished that Shane would fall for Vincent, but it's almost better that they were simply best friends, that Shane took whatever money he had left over to give Vincent a ticket to New York to pursue his dream of fashion.
Again, my only problem in the film was the drug running. It took up too much time in a movie that had a considerable amount of material to mine. I wanted to see so much more of Vincent and Shane - and I'm not talking about wanting to see them in sexual situations. They were just such believable characters that if the drug running was removed and more time given to their relationship, it would have been a great film. Perhaps instead of the drug running, they could have given more time to Shane's infatuation with Gemma. That would have been terrific. "
Roomates Help Each Other Out
interested_observer | San Francisco, CA USA | 02/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Cowboys & Angels" is an entertaining tale showing how a brief rooming together of one gay and one straight man results in benefit to both. Twenty-year old, straight Shane Butler (played by Michael Legge) moves to downtown Limerick to be closer to his safe, dull civil service job in Ireland's Department of Agriculture. Not being able to afford the rent alone, he rooms with a gay, 23-year old student of fashion design, Vincent Cusack (played by Allen Leech). Shane becomes attracted to a fast-food server, Gemma (played by Amy Shiels), and gets life and career advice from a retiring co-worker, Jerry (played by Frank Kelly). It turns out that Gemma is a close friend of Vincent and is a possible lesbian. Dowdy Shane is not going anywhere fast and is even not being allowed into the trendy night club. Vincent rides to the rescue. Along the way Shane realizes that his career passion is drawing and that art school might make sense. Art schoool is expensive; so Shane is subject to temptation. Temptation leads to big trouble. Along the way the more disciplined Vincent gets roped in and has to come up with a way both to put on a successful show of his fashions for graduation and to get out of the soup. Through luck and good character, there is a happy ending.
The extras include a good commentary track with Writer/ Director David Gleeson and actors Legge and Leech, some deleted scenes (two of which have some frisson), a director's text statement on his purpose for the movie, and some trailers.
The skin shots are modest - Gemma's back, side-views of chests with open shirts and the like. There is good use of suggestion.
The movie is successful in showing how people of good will with different backgrounds can negotiate a living arrangement and help each other live better. When Shane has his downward spiral, Vincent is able to keep matters under control. This is a reversal of the stereotype of the stalwart straight person and the flustered gay one. Limerick looks very beautiful, with castles and riverfront views. There is good use of humor throughout.
My one issue with the movie is that it continues the traditional focus on the straight character at the expense of the gay one. At the end Vincent is able to help Shane change his look, his career, and his loneliness, while staying out of jail. Separately, Shane gets good advice through his job. Despite the fabulous clothes, makeup, and apartment, Vincent is never shown with a boyfriend or even a date. Vincent is shown having a single, brief encounter with a nice-looking greying-haired gentleman and is shown hanging out at both the local club and at home only with the woman, Gemma. Vincent's parents are glimpsed once, at his graduation, and are never mentioned otherwise. Where does the money for art school and all the clothes and home decorations come from? Vincent seems to have no adult coaches. Vincent is an inherently good and sensible person, but the questions about his social life, funding, and mentors are never asked. Seen unsympathetically, this movie might appear to be a partial upgrade of the old story of the gay sidekick doing his all to help his straight buddy and ending up with not much for himself.
(Shane does help Vincent overcome a creative block and does behave well at the end; so it is not quite as one-sided as the above might imply.)
I liked the movie, especially the acting and Limerick, and would be happy to watch a sequel.
A Refreshing, Warmly Humorous and Tender Story from Ireland
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Writer and Director David Gleeson has molded a film about contemporary youth and the life problems and decisions they make and in doing so has created a story unblemished by the conventional tropes - an unusual and commendable feat.
Small town lad Shane (Michael Legge) narrates this adventure as he enters the 'big city' civil service employment in Limerick to support his newly widowed mother and family. An artist at heart and of talent, Shane stumbles along trying to find a flat he can afford, eventually settling into a shared mid-city flat with a young gay art student Vincent (Allen Leech). The two seem polar opposites at first: Shane is conservative in dress and job and social demeanor while Vincent is garish, ebullient, and progressive in this artsy way of life.
Slowly, through a wondrous honesty about who they are, the two become close and Vincent does a makeover of Shane to give him a chance to be more engaged in the world. By a curious accident, Shane discovers a stash of drugs in the lobby of their flat, only to discover that it belongs to two men who live there - Keith (David Manning) and Budgie (Colm Coogan). Serendipitously, Shane is talked into 'transporting' drugs from Dublin to Limerick for 1000 Euros, money Shane desperately needs if he is to maintain his newly designed lifestyle.
Shane's adventure in Dublin is complicated by dire happenings but he manages to return to Limerick and his reward. Shane tries some of the drugs with bad consequences and is eventually arrested along with Vincent for possession of a tiny amount of drugs in their flat. One of Vincent's ex tricks happens to work in the Police Department and the two are freed.
Subplots include a tender friendship between Shane and a retiring civil servant Jerry (Frank Kelly) whose end to his boring career and life alters Shane's outlook considerably. In the end Shane and Vincent (along with Gemma - Amy Shiels - a fellow art student of Vincent's who shares many qualities with both lads) are warmly bonded and the results of their friendship are the unexpected but lovely end to this film.
All of the actors are first rate and the direction is fast paced and unbelievably unbiased and tender. This is a fine film for audiences young of age and of heart and is one of the better-balanced films about the spectrum of sexuality that has been made. Wonderful film! Grady Harp, February 2005
"You have a sweater problem - throw them all out."
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Cowboys & Angels doesn't offer anything particularly new with its theme of young innocent boys coming of age in the big city, it does however, offer up a satisfying dose of Irish goodwill. It's a beautifully made and sweet little film whose undeniable appeal is largely due to the performances of its flat-out adorable leads.
Cowboys & Angels is about the friendship between Shane, an awkward, naïve, straight civil servant (Michael Legge) and Vincent, his gay, self-assured fashion-student roommate (Allen Leech). First time director David Gleeson challenges our preconceptions of the gay/straight mix - Vincent is disciplined, while Shane is lonely and unstable; this not only adds to the film's charm, but it says a lot about how confident young gay men now are.
The twenty-year-old Shane works in a dead end job in Limerick's Department of Agriculture. He decides to move in with Leech's flamboyant but never effeminate Vincent when the two former secondary-school classmates discover themselves drooling over the same prohibitively expensive apartment.
While Vincent works his magic on home decorating, Shane, lonely and self involved, ponders his life. The last person he wants to end up like is his grey haired co-worker Jerry (Frank Kelly), who never had the nerve "to do something different."
Persuaded by Keith (David Murray) and Budgie (Colm Coogan), his downstairs neighbours, Shane is led deep into the local pub's drug-dealing community, to which he finds himself drawn by the prospect of easy money, partly to pay for his new Vincent-inspired wardrobe, and partly as a means of earning the tuition for his own enrollment in art school.
The movie's dramatic impetus follows Shane as he gets further into the druggie underworld, and ponders his future as a potential art school student, while nursing a crush on Gemma (Amy Shiels), a local burger-joint worker. But Gemma only has eyes for Vincent. As the story turns increasingly drug fuelled and violent, Shane is forced to confront is loneliness and try to figure out what he really wants from life.
Often the narrative relies on outrageous coincidences and glib solutions to keep the boys out of real trouble. But that hardly matters, as he chemistry between Leech and Legge never flags, even when Vincent and Shane beat up on each other and become temporarily estranged. Amy Shiels and David Murray - as the closeted dealer - are so strong that most viewers would probably wish that their roles were larger.
One of the best attributes of Cowboys and Angels is that it doesn't emphasis the sexual politics of Shane and Vincent's relationship, the uneasy alliance of two new odd-couple roommates. Similarly, the movie easily could have focused far more on either Shane's descent into illicit behavior or even the triangle of affection between Vincent, Gemma and Shane, but it does this only sporadically. Gleeson, very cleverly, never emphasizes one aspect of the story over the other.
Legge delivers such a fantastic lead turn. As Shane he's both perfectly ordinary and vulnerable, and also engagingly unique without ever being trite. Murray, meanwhile, is casually charismatic as Keith, and Leech's Vincent is a stab of colorful cordiality - a patch of light and moral guidance amongst the often dark, conflicted proceedings. Mike Leonard August 05. "
An Excellent Coming of Age Story Set In Dublin
JC | New York | 02/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although there is a gay lead in first-time director David Gleeson's "Cowboys and Angels", this is by no means a gay film, rather a touching and heartwarming story of two young men coming-of-age in the heart of Dublin. Rivaling anything that's on the market today in the way of teen films, this rises above any of them with great performances and a fresh look at some old themes. It might be too sweet at times and neatly wrapped but the Irish charm of the characters keeps it afloat throughout.
Michael Legge plays Shane Butler, a geeky 20 year old lad from the suburbs who has just moved to Dublin. While searching for a flat to rent he stumbles upon a fellow classmate from high school, Vincent (Allen Leech), and the two reconnect when they both happen to be looking at the same apartment to rent. They decide to share it and Shane's adventure in the big city begins.
Shane is straight, has a quiet demeanor, and looks like his mom dressed him, while Vincent is more outgoing, dresses and looks funky, oh, and is gay. The two don't quite hit it off at first, but their friendship develops over time and Vincent takes him under his wing, as a friend and partly as a fashion project. Shane falls for a girl named Gemma (Amy Shiels) who works in a nearby burger joint, and it just so happens an old classmate of Vincent's. Shane has a hard time making the connection with her and is envious of her and Vincent's friendship. To make matters worse, Shane finds some drugs in the buildings lobby, he gets caught by the dealer (David Murray), and is then offered a large sum of money to make a run. He takes the offer hoping the money can either buy him a new wardrobe or help put him into art school and get him out of his dead-end job at the civil service department. A subplot involves a coworker named Jerry that is truly touching. In any event, Shane falls into the wrong crowd and friendships are tested, hearts broken, and loved ones lost. But in the end, true friendship endures and you can't help be touched by either one, the cowboy or angel. "