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EVELYN

Pierce Brosnan, Aidan Quinn, Julianna Margulies, Stephen Rea, Sophie Vavasseur

Directed by: Bruce Beresford
Written by: Paul Pender
Produced by: Pierce Brosnan, Beau St. Clair, Michael Ohoven
Distributor: United Artists

US: 13/12/02
UK: 21/03/03

Desmond Doyle is devastated when his philandering wife abandons their family on the day after Christmas. His unemployment and the fact that there is no woman in the house to care for the children, Evelyn, Noel and Brendan, make it clear to the authorities that his is an untenable situation. The Catholic Church and the Irish courts decide the Doyle children put into Church-run orphanages. Although a sympathetic judge assures Desmond that when his financial situation reverses, he will be able to get his children back; money is hard to come by. During that time, Evelyn and her brothers suffer the abuses of living in orphanages while Desmond struggles to secure finances. Now he must battle the courts to get his children back.
This is what they mean by 'old-fashioned' A bit like a Hallmark Channel TV movie stretched to the big screen. It's supposedly based on a true story. You know the story, lovable Irish rogues spending all their time and wages down the pub. Enjoyable in parts, excellent performances, especially the kids, but there's no added cinematic depth to life in 1950's Dublin.

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Dec 10/New York Daily News: It's Erin go Bond in new film

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Based on a true story, this involving, compelling film actually deserves comparison to Capra's classic tales of triumph over adversity--sharp, engaging, moving and real. Desmond Doyle (Brosnan) is a carpenter in 1953 Dublin whose three children are taken from him when his wife deserts them. According to the law, a single father cannot be a fit parent. But Doyle is determined to get his children back, and with the help of a barmaid (Margulies) enlists a pair of lawyers (Rea and Quinn) and a salty legal veteran (Bates) to challenge the church and the government ... all the way up to the Supreme Court. And it's his plucky daughter Evelyn (Vavasseur) who tips the scales.

It sounds extremely heartwarming--and indeed it is! But it's also well enough made to undercut the sweetness with earthy humour and authentic characters. Beresford knows that the story is a strong one, yet he wisely concentrates on the people, and as a result draws us in with real power. Brosnan goes against type here brilliantly, playing the underdog Jimmy Stewart role with raw honesty and real energy. And the rest of the cast is just as good, combining comedy with drama and even a bit of romance to keep us completely gripped to the strong, history-changing storyline. The only slightly false misstep is to vilify one nun (Irvine), who is indeed cruel, but is left as one of the movie-style villains of the piece. Yes, it's a bit warm and quaintly Irish (down to the freckled children and rosy-cheeked barmaid!), but it's also a crackling story about the difference between the law and justice.

 


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