Published Mar 01, 2005Any movie about loveable Irish musicians competing for trophies and hearts is bound to induce lazy critics to dismiss it as "blarney," but I'm sad to say that this tossed-off trifle justifies the statement.
Set in the '60s, the film pits brothers Jimmy (Colm Meaney) and John Joe (Bernard Hill) against each other in a Ceili music tournament; Jimmy fled from Ireland to "better himself" in Liverpool while John Joe stayed in County Clare and kept the faith. Their bands are predictably close to being the best there are, so they keep sabotaging each other while under their noses Jimmy's illegitimate daughter (Andrea Corr) falls in love with one of his bandmates.
This is aimed squarely at those boring people who like a travelogue with their dinner theatre there's a lot of melodramatic angst that's downplayed for the sake of keeping things cute, emerald-green Irish scenery and some "naughty" sex intrigue involving a hippie chick just to prove that they're not prudish. Not only does the script reek of clichés and contrivances, but journeyman hack director John Irvin proves incapable of putting a new spin on its old saws, playing the Eire Coronation Street intrigues as straight as possible and blowing the timing on the already dog-tired jokes.
Meaney and Hill acquit themselves well enough to maintain dignity (as do Corr and resentful mother Charlotte Bradley), but they're stranded without genuine characters to justify their labours. Try as they might, they're just not enough to make this desperately square film resonate as anything other than what a friend of mind would call an "Irish minstrel show" and a serious waste of time. (Alliance Atlantis)