Starring: Jay Baruchel, Eoin O’Callaghan Director: Michael McNamara Runtime: 83 minutes
Celtic Soul is a documentary feature which follows Canadian comedian Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder, Man Seeking Woman, This Is The End) and Irish football journalist Eoin O’Callaghan on their journey to visit ‘Paradise’ – the home of Celtic Football Club. On their travels, they stop along the way to unearth Baruchel’s Irish roots, marvel at the scenery and soak up Scottish and Irish culture, all before taking in a game at Celtic Park.
It is quite hard to review Celtic Soul considering the fact that it is basically a road trip between two good friends and die hard football fans. Both O’Callaghan and Baruchel live their dreams on camera for us all to see and, quite understandably, enjoy themselves along the way. By virtue of this, there is a lot of fun to be had here and you can’t help but join in on the frequent fits of laughter shared between the two friends, who share undeniable chemistry.
It is interesting to see Ireland through the eyes of a tourist, especially when Baruchel becomes acquainted with Hurling, gets lost on the meandering roads of Connemara and sits in on a trad session in the local pub. Luckily for the viewer, the Irish leg of their adventure is approached in such a way that both Irish and international film goers can happily come along for the ride.
The same can’t be said, however, for both football and non-football fans. As the road trippers enter the second half of their journey, their joint goal of meeting the Celtic team and stepping foot in Celtic Park becomes a reality. At this point, it is easy for non-football fans to become alienated from the fun – like being left out of an inside joke.
When they reach Glasgow, the film tries to pull some emotional strings for the audience. However, even as a football fan, it is often hard to fully arrive at this emotional point with Baruchel and O’Callaghan. This is mainly due to the documentary’s fairly bland and unambitious storytelling approach. There are times when the movie feels like it could have been recorded on a Go-Pro, as opposed to any high-tech piece of recording equipment, and, with no innovative and engaging visuals, you can often feel like you’re on the outside looking in.
Despite its low points, you can’t help but fall for Celtic Soul. Although it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s enough here to keep you laughing and entertained, for the most part. You might not make it to ‘Paradise’ but you should enjoy the journey!(3 / 5)