Night after night, Kate (Gemma-Leah Deveraux) grabs a cheap beer and walks up on stage at her local pub/comedy club. She shoots one self-deprecating joke after another, before heading to a shabby room in the back to play poker with frustrated comics who are equally as broke and left to gamble with all sorts of pharmaceuticals instead. In this small Irish town, Kate is the closest one gets to a celebrity and, even though it is 2021 and autographs seem to be something of the past, she still often gets asked to scribble her name on pieces of paper for random mams and das. 

Utterly depressed and hooked on sleeping pills, Kate employs comedy to convey the darkest of thoughts – from her abusive childhood to her long-lasting suicidal tendencies. When she is diagnosed with breast cancer, however, life kicks this convenient crutch from under her feet. It is from this moment forward, when the lukewarm stand-ups become scarcer and the deeper explorations of grief more frequent, that Ruth Meehan’s directorial debut truly begins to feel like something special. 

The Bright Side has all of the standard tropes of the sub-genre: family drama, a diverse group of patients that eventually grows close and has heated debates around religion. The difference is in the inherently Irish approach to existential comedy, greatly embodied by Deveraux, whose performance is boosted by the ones of fellow cast members – Siobhán Cullen as Tracey, a hopeful yet hard-headed young patient, and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Kate’s romantic interest, Andy.

Earnest, albeit unoriginal, The Bright Side is one of those films to be watched on a Sunday afternoon, tightly holding the hands of someone you love. Meehan’s tale of how friendship aids resilience gradually softens the sceptical and makes it easy to overlook the unpolished. It is as soppy-feel-good as soppy-feel-good can be.



CAST: Gemma-Leah Deveraux, Siobhán Cullen, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor

DIRECTOR: Ruth Meehan

WRITERS: Ruth Meehan, Jean Pasley

SYNOPSIS: A stand-up comedian’s life changes when she is diagnosed with breast cancer.