The Hobbledehoy’s Top 10 Irish Films

By Michael Stevenson

St. Patrick’s Day during a Covid Lockdown requires a good fil-um or three. I’ve seen each of these many times. Which are your favorites?

“Ryan’s Daughter” (1970 David Lean)

– Critics hated it, the cast hated each other. David Lean was so traumatized by the experience, he didn’t make another movie for 15 years. I love every fame, especially the ones featuring the Dingle shore. 

“In Bruges” (2008 Martin McDonough)

– Great performances from Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, and Ralph Fiennes. McDonagh’s dialogue is raw ferfucksake, but very funny and sometimes poetic.

“I Went Down” (1997 Paddy Breathnach)

– This hilarious road movie was my first taste of actor Brendan Gleeson, who might be the best actor in the world.

“The Quiet Man” (1952 John Ford)

– On my first trip to Ireland, a bank teller in Dublin told me I spoke “just like John Wayne.” Though not true, this remains the best compliment I’ve ever had. Bless her.

“The Commitments” (1991 Alan Parker)

– Maybe not the best of Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy books (I loved “The Van”), it is certainly the best film adaptation mainly because of the amazing musical performances by a truly great soul band created for the film.  

“The Magdalene Sisters” (2002 Peter Mullen)

– Excellent film on the subject of Catholic Church abuse in Ireland. Be prepared to become very angry.

“In America” (2002 Jim Sheriden)

– Beautiful biographical story of Sheriden’s immigration from Ireland to NY’s Hell’s Kitchen in the sixties. Two sisters age 6 and 11, Emma and Sarah Bolger, acting for the first time, steal the movie.

“Into the West” (1992 Mike Newel)

– Mystical story of Irish gypsies on the run and a magical horse named Tir na Nog. I’ve always liked Gabriel Byrne, too. 

“The Butcher Boy” (1997 Neil Jordan)

An Irish “A Clockwork Orange,” complete with Sinead O’Connor as the Virgin Mary (Sinead sings a great version of the folk song of the title.) Very disturbing.

“Finian’s Rainbow” (1968 Francis Ford Coppolla)
Despite the talents of Fred Astaire, Yip Harburg, and Francis Ford Coppolla – this thing was a mess. Still, worth it if only for Petula Clark who is terrific. How are things in Glocca Mora?

Honorable Mention:
The Guard, Waking Ned Devine, Once, The Field, The Snapper, The Crying Game, My Left Foot, Cal, In the Name of the Father, Secret of Roan Inish, Philomela, The Van, The Boxer, Hear My Song, The General.

“Rosie” Review: Portrait of a Working Class Hero

Fans of Ken Loach and the Dardenne brothers shouldn’t miss Paddy Breathnach’s Rosie. This moving portrait of working class life is kitchen sink realism without the sink. The film stars Penny Dreadful’s Sarah Greene as Rosie Davis. She is a mother of four desperately trying to find her kids a home. She struggles daily, schlepping the kids from hotel to school, and searches for lodging both temporary and permanent to manage their homelessness. However, with few options in their reach and fewer resources to support them, Rosie’s family embodies a familiar struggle. Rosie puts a human face on the ordinary families who suffer in the present housing crisis. For anyone who has ever worked hard and worried about how to pay for tomorrow, Rosie hits a nerve.

Roddy’s Return

Rosie comes to the screen as an event of sorts despite the dire subject matter. It’s the first screenplay in nearly two decades from Roddy Doyle. 18 years after When Brendan Met Trudy and nearly 30 years after his masterful The Commitments, Doyle is back in his element. (We’ll forgive him for all those novels in between!) Rosie could easily be the child of two Dublin scenesters who saw their lives explode on screen in The Commitments. But where The Commitments found hope and optimism within the life-affirming pulse of soul music and rock-n-roll, Rosie sees its young Dubliner scrape desperately for a lifeline. Doyle’s scripts capture the hope, or lack thereof, that divides these two generations.

There is barely a note of rock to be heard in Rosie. The young woman, barely 30 years old, hardly finds a moment of respite. She spends each day calling numbers on a list of hotels that offer rooms paid for by Dublin city council. Rosie and her kids spend their lives on standby. The film captures the grating uncertainty of homelessness as their odds for securing shelter dwindle with each hour. Each day sees them clear house for paying guests. Rosie can’t secure long-term shelter for her family when concerns for the day-by-bay consume her.

A Working Class Hero

But where musical beats fuel The Commitments, Rosie’s heartbeat drives this film. Breathnach, who showed such a wonderfully observant hand at depicting the margins in the 2015 Oscar-shortlisted Viva with its portrait of Cuba’s gay community, injects Rosie with the same vitality that made his queer Cuban drama so strong. While Rosie evokes the working class spirit of Ken Loach, it isn’t “old man’s cinema.” (I literally have a Pavlovian reflex and yawn whenever I hear or read the name “Ken Loach.”) Instead, Rosie pulses with the restlessness of its protagonist’s generation. The film hones in close on Greene, invading her privacy and getting up in her face, as it observes hard-working families who can’t afford homes. The film positions Rosie as a working class hero simply for her indefatigable devotion to provide her kids a functional present and a hopeful future.

Greene carries virtually every frame of the film. She repeats the same lines over and over as Rosie searches for shelter. Rosie knows the drill, but Greene’s performance conveys both the crushing monotony and the element of performance it involves. Each call hinges on Rosie’s pleasant demeanour and her willingness to put on a brave face that hides her struggles. Greene is remarkably good. She finds excellent screen partners not only in Moe Dunford as Rosie’s spouse John Paul, but also in the quartet of young performers who play her children. The film authentically drops audiences into one family’s everyday struggle and leaves us waiting in suspenseful hope for their survival

Source: Rosie Review: Portrait of a Working Class Hero – That Shelf