White Irish Drinkers is set in 1975 in the Bay Ridge area in Brooklyn, an enclave of working-class, hardscrabble families with a societal code that discourages any aspirations to leave the neighbourhood. In the thick of it are two brothers, Danny (Geoff Wigdor) and Brian (Nick Thurston), who dare to dream of life elsewhere. But their reasons for leaving, and their means of doing so, are so opposed that they threaten to destroy their entire family and, potentially, each other.
Elder brother Danny has suffered years of physical and verbal abuse from his flinty, alcoholic father (Stephen Lang) and is relying on his criminal ambitions to get the two brothers as far from Bay Ridge as possible. Brian doesn t share Danny s enthusiasm for crime and keeps his hopes and heart locked away in the basement of their apartment building, where he spends all of his free time drawing and painting. When Whitey (Peter Riegert), the owner of a failing local cinema where Brian works, announces a concert by The Rolling Stones that will share profits with the young man, Brian guardedly hopes that his secret ambition to attend art school might finally be realized. But soon Danny s reckless crimes, his father s alcohol-soaked temper and Brian s flailing attempts to avoid both collide and the resulting turmoil ends in an upheaval that affects the entire community.
White Irish Drinkers is a gritty, moving story about finding the courage to make a better choice, rather than accepting the easier options that lie directly in front of you. The quiet, tenuous glue that somehow holds the family together is the boys mother, Margaret, played with earthy stoicism by Karen Allen. Despite years of a soul-destroying marriage to a profoundly difficult man, Margaret s staunch Catholicism demands that she stand by him, even though she is afraid to face the inevitable realities of her sons futures. When she discovers Brian s secret studio, she shares a spark of hope, fulfillment and amazement that she has a