Bottom 20% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

1998 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Dramatic Competition


Jimmy Smallhorne, Chris O'Neill, Bradley Fitts, Kimberley Topper, Michael Liebmann, Marion Quinn

Non-Cast Credits

Jimmy Smallhorne, John Hall, Virginia Biddle, Darren Davy, Terry McGoff, Fergus Tighe, Declan Quinn, Laure Sullivan, Scott Balcerek, Hazel Mailoux


Jimmy Smallhorne directs, cowrites, and stars in this raw, visceral portrait of the immigrant experience rarely seen by outsiders. Rejecting the traditional portrayal of warm and humorous Irishmen working merrily on construction sites, 2by4 shows real men in conflict with the freedom and anonymity of New York life.

Smallhorne portrays Johnny, who lives in the Bronx and works construction for his Uncle Trump. He runs a wild and raucous crew of Irish immigrants, who install sheetrock in Manhattan by day and spend their hard-earned money in the neighborhood pub at night. He has a girlfriend he loves, good mates, and the respect of his community, but demons plague him. Something is not right. His half-remembered past is oozing to the surface as full-blown memories, sending him into a downward spiral and plunging him into a netherworld of sexual ambiguity, violence, and substance abuse.

Common advice given to any beginning filmmaker is never act in a film you are directing. I have to add, "Unless you are Jimmy Smallhorne." As director, he never flinches in his vivid examination of this community. He surrounds himself with a mixture of "It" and seasoned professionals who combine with the cinematography and editing docustyle to make 2by4 even more raw and emotional, As for Johnny, it is impossible to imagine anyone else portraying him so well. As if drawing from an ancestral history of poetry and storytelling, Smallhomne uses all his talents to make us feel for a complex soul in turmoil.


John Cooper (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.