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MOVIE REVIEW

'Turning Green'

An unhappy teen seeking a way out of Ireland turns to illegally importing and selling porn magazines.

November 07, 2009|Kevin Thomas

"Turning Green," an amusing Irish coming-of-age comedy set in 1979, takes its title from the effect of chug-a-lug beer drinking upon 16-year-old James (gifted newcomer Donal Gallery). Pub patrons bet on his prowess, and James adds his winnings to the money he's saving to get him and his brother, Pete (Killian Morgan), back to America. Six years earlier, after the death of their mother, their father shipped them off to three maiden aunts living in a coastal town as idyllic as it is boring for James.

Although the aunts are well-meaning, they are uncomprehending of what it's like to be an unhappy teen. James secretly drops out of school to become a collector for a local bookie, the smooth, paternal but also dangerous Bill the Bookie (Alessandro Nivola), whose strong-arm guy is the scruffy, none-too-smart Bill the Breaker (Timothy Hutton).

While on a brief trip to London, James discovers porn magazines -- at the time illegal in Ireland -- and imports them to sell to local men of all ages.

The wryly made point here is that nudity in magazines was illegal in Ireland until the 1990s and apparently the law was firmly enforced, yet in James' community the residents looked the other way at gambling -- even the priest is a Bill the Bookie customer -- and underage drinking, although also illegal. When all those triple-X magazines spread throughout the community, "Turning Green" takes off in earnest.

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'Turning Green'

MPAA rating: Unrated

Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Playing: At the Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica

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