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Everlasting Piece, An (2000, Billy Connolly, Anna Friel)



The director of Diner may have replaced wit with whimsy in his latter career, but as this accomplished comedy proves, you can never write Barry Levinson off.

Set in 1980s Belfast, it follows Colm O’Neill (Barry McEvoy) in his search for work. A local psychiatric hospital – at which his girlfriend Bronagh (Anna Friel) works as a nurse – offers the young Catholic a job as the resident barber. Teaming up with his Protestant colleague George (Brian F. O’Byrne), they discover that one of the patients, nicknamed Scalper (Billy Connolly), was once a successful salesman of hairpieces. They persuade him to divulge his contacts and begin cold-calling bald men in the local area.

But the entrepreneurs are stalled by their suppliers, who insist they enter into a competition with rivals Toupee or Not Toupee. The prize will be an exclusive licence to distribute wigs, but Colm and George soon have higher things on their mind when the local IRA commander and the British Army take an interest in their business, placing big orders…

Trichology and the tricolor may seem ill-matched, but it’s all in the handling. A deft script – culled from the writer’s father’s career as a hairpiece salesman – balances character depth with substantial humour; the director is always at his best with ensembles, and teases good performances from the main cast, echoing his best work in the strongest moments.

However, Levinson tore his own hair out in a war of words with Steven Spielberg, claiming the auteur’s company, Dreamworks, buried the movie to please the British government. ‘There’s 40 million people you could chase,’ he said of the potential Irish-American audience, ‘and what did they do? They held competitions and screenings for bald people.’

production details
USA – UK | 103 minutes | 2000

Director: Barry Levinson
Script: Barry McEvoy

Pauline McLynn as Gerty
Brían F. O’Byrne as George
Des McAleer as Mr. Black
Laurence Kinlan as Mickey
Billy Connolly as Scalper
Barry McEvoy as Colm
Anna Friel as Bronagh
Ruth McCabe as Mrs. O’Neill