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9 April 1998 Edition

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Cinema: How to cheat in the Leaving Certificate

Passing the test

``The Education system is a murder machine, killing young minds'': these words by Patrick Pearse have particular relevance to the subject of this film. How to cheat in the Leaving Certificate is an irreverent and rebellious diatribe against the Irish education system.

24 year old director Graham Jones and co-conspirator Tadhg O'Higgins penned an excellently duplicit screenplay. The hazardous concoction of mischievous comedy and the austerely depressing theme of student suicide were somehow combined in a fully functioning and complimentary relationship. Although there are many belly-laughs in the film, the fundamental message is not lost. In essence, the education system has failed, intimidated and often depravated many young people and a considered overhaul of the status-quo must occur.

The film is about a group of young people who decide to avenge a young man who committed suicide because of his hopelessness at the daunting task of a life-or-failure examination.

Although some of the acting is amateurish, Aileen O'Connor as Cara and Alison Coffey as Elli display potential. Overall the acting succeeds in carrying the theme and showing the idealism behind the tenacious task undertaken.

The addition of cameos from familiar Irish stars in obscure and unpredictable roles also contributes to the film's success. Chris De Burgh as a petrol pump attendant is particularly funny when pondering that Athlone (the location of the Leaving Cert examination paper's warehouse) may be the centre of the Universe. However, possibly the most comedic cameo is reserved for Mr. Pussy as an examination superintendent.

The camerawork and soundtrack are also surprisingly good, especially considering the modest budget. Music contributes brilliantly to the differing moods as does the contemplative black and white format.

This is a film which successfully challenges the authority and integrity of our educational system and unashamedly encourages sabotage and rebellion. Well worth seeing.

By Michael Pierse

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtar├ín Mary Lou McDonald.

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