The tale behind the legend that is Mattress Mick.
When I first heard there was a Mattress Mick film in the works, I pretty much assumed it was a joke, or at least some new kind of viral marketing attempt by the Dublin-based purveyors of cushioned slabs to rest your weary body. But nope, it’s a real-life documentary. And the biggest surprise is that it’s actually pretty great.
Director Colm Quinn finds his way into character of Mick through Paul Kelly, a down on his luck fellow fighting back after unemployment by boning up on filmmaking and marketing skills. He was the driving force behind Mattress Mick and becomes the central figure here.
There’s no doubt that Kelly was instrumental in creating the viral success of the character and his struggle for recognition, and to get off social welfare, is by turns inspirational and heart-breaking.
It’s the raw honesty that really sets this film apart, from a man who is putting everything he has into a project which might ultimately fail. Over the course of three years, Quinn’s camera watches and listens through triumph and disaster.
Then there’s Mick Flynn who has a more complicated part in the doc. He’s a businessman, willing to put his own image on the line to shore up flagging sales and the film gamely shows the contrast between his on camera persona and the canny man underneath.
Mattress Men is often not an easy watch - this is real life and there’s no guarantee that things will work out well - but it does come with acres of heart and plenty of humour. Much of that is courtesy of Brian Traynor, who wanders through scenes in a Mattress Mick suit and seems to be starring in his own broad comedy sketch show. His last line is terrific.
You might think you know a bit about Mattress Mick but this essential documentary shows the blood, sweat and tears behind the myth of creating a viral sensation. It’s also a timely look at the struggle facing so many people in Ireland today, shot through with the stoic sense of humour which is just as typical of our nation's fine folk.