A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Waking Ned Devine

September 18, 2010

Waking Ned Devine

I first saw this movie in an airplane. I hate watching movies on that tiny little screen, and with those annoying airplane headphones skewering my years (in recent years they’ve upgraded to actual headphones with a different jack to plug them in, but back in the day they were just tubes you stuck in your ears and the sound was generated by speakers in the arm of your airplane seat. Horrid things.) But even with a tiny little screen, half obscured by the heads of other people and the seat backs ahead of me, I was captivated by the charm of this movie.

This movie, like Local Hero which we have already reviewed and which is a longtime favorite of ours here, is a tale of the mythical rustic small towns of the UK. Tullymore is a little Irish town with only fifty-two residents. In the way of these towns in movies and television shows like this everybody in the village knows everybody else. As the movie starts we are following Jackie O’Shea. He reads in the paper that somebody in Tullymore has won the lottery, and is determined to suss out who it is. The first twenty minutes or so of the movie involve Jackie, his wife Annie, and his best friend Michael O’Sullivan and their efforts to figure out who amongst their neighbours has experienced an unexpected windfall.

The bit that everybody best remembers is of course the desperate naked bike ride that the very wiry David Kelly as Michael makes in a race to reach the house of Ned Devine before a man up from Dublin with information about the lottery. (I joked as we watched that the casting call for the role of Michael must have been for the thinnest most wiry old man they could find.) But that’s only one small part of the movie. The delight in this movie comes from the antics of Jackie and Michael. The two of them have been friends their whole lives, and they behave like schoolboys. “Thick as thieves” I believe the phrase is. It’s just fun to see these two old codgers in their scheming and plotting. There’s a lot of fun in the simple friendship of the two of them. Michael is a simple fellow without a dishonest bone in his body, and Jackie is the clever one and instigator with all the ideas.

Oh, there’s other things going on in town. There’s the b-plot with a pair of guys wooing a single mother. Maggie has told nobody who is the father of her boy is, though Finn the pig-keeper believes it is him. It’s a running gag that nobody can stand the stench of Finn’s pigs and that Maggie would marry him were it not for his pungent occupation. And there’s Lizzy, the nasty heartless evil witch who terrorizes the entire village from astride her electric scooter. But the heart of the movie is in Michael and Jackie. And in the camaraderie of the whole village.

Now I don’t know if isolated hamlets like this actually exist. Towns where everybody knows everybody else and they have little contact with the outside world. But they’re a romantic notion that appeals to those of us caught up in the whirlwind of the modern world. We need to believe that there are simpler lands and simpler people living out their lives out there somewhere. I suppose it’s just another fantasy realm like those that I so enjoy, just one that’s a little more plausible. The landscape here is so beautiful and unspoiled. The accents are so thick. It seems like an ideal place to escape to from the cares of today. And of course these small town people have a sort of wisdom in movies like this and prove themselves more clever than the big-city folks who visit their world.

I enjoyed visiting Tullymore again tonight. In more comfortable surrounds than my last visit. It was as charming, as funny and as touching as I remembered it being. Another worthy addition to our collection.

September 18, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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