A young man suffering from depression searches the internet for a reason to die.
Brendan Gleeson has no reason to continue living. His wife has left him for another man and moved to New Zealand with their ten year old son. He has abandoned all hope of a high flying career in London and taken up a dead-end position in a boring little office in Dublin. He spends his nights watching horrible German porn and drinking endless bottles of cheap supermarket wine. He’s lonely, he’s isolated and most of all he’s afraid. His only friend in life is his faithful dog Podge. The day finally arrives when Brendan decides to end it all. First he kills Podge, then he turns his gun on himself. But when the moment comes to pull the trigger Brendan is just not able to do it. Something – he doesn’t know what – stops him from committing the act. The failed attempt at taking his life leaves Brendan worse off than ever: he’s still all alone in the world, but now he’s without his beloved Podge. He desperately needs help.
The internet is full of advice for people with depression but, as Brendan quickly finds out, most of it leaves you feeling more depressed than you were to begin with. After hours of searching, he stumbles across a self-help site run by a smooth taking man about the same age as himself called Gus and without giving it a whole lot of thought he pings Gus an email outlining his predicament. Gus responds immediately and the two set up a date for a Skype session. Gus is not a professional therapist, in fact he has no background in mental health whatsoever. He’s just a big hearted, likeable (and self-described) bullshitter. His very quick assessment of Brendan’s situation is that Brendan is dealing with the same problem that a lot of Irishmen are dealing with: they’re not cut out to survive in a capitalist world. You see in order to make it in the rat race, according to Gus, you have to be prepared to sell your granny. But little Irish Catholic boys aren’t raised to sell their grannies, they’re raised to ‘love their neighbours as themselves’: this is a real problem if you want to succeed in the modern world. And it’s the reason why Brendan is so unhappy. So, Brendan wonders, if he’s not cut out for capitalism, how else is he supposed to get through life in a capitalist society? Gus suggests that Brendan answer that question for himself: he sets Brendan the task of researching all the good reasons the world’s best minds have ever come up with for continuing to live (besides making loads of money) and arrange his findings into a Powerpoint presentation.
Brendan finds the exercise a lot more interesting than he thought it was going to be. It turns out Plato isn’t that hard to understand after all and, while Sartre is hard to understand, what he was to say about the meaning of life is really pretty relevant. Brendan puts a lot of effort into his research and the presentation he finally makes to Gus is something of a tour de force. But at the end of his presentation we’re surprised to discover that, in spite of all his research and all of the wonderful things the great philosophers have had to say over the years, Brendan still hasn’t found that one compelling reason to continue living: life, it turns out, is not worth the living after all. He says his goodbyes to Gus and prepares to return to his lonely, wine fueled existence. But just when it looks like Brendan is about to give up all hope, Gus shows up at the door of his remote little cottage. It turns out that he – Gus – may (just may) have found a reason to continue living after all. But in order to discover what this meaning might be, both he and Brendan have to make a long journey deep into the heart of the Irish countryside. He’s not a hundred per cent sure, but Gus’s instincts tell him that the meaning of life has something to do with nature. Irish nature.
The Island of Evenings is complete. As of September 2018, it has not been shown publicly; 1h 12m; colour; HD; DVD and online.