There is something about the Irish.
And oh their movies!
What I love about the Irish-set or Irish made films is that they have a soul that very few other movies are able to capture. You can sense it in how they present their ideas throgh film–there is an honesty about life and it does not seem forced but often has a whimsical nature, which is inspiring.
When you think about Irish culture and its history, you may recall St. Patrick, Celtic music, marvelous green landscapes, war, the Potato Famine, immigration, lots of drinking, and the 20th Century fighting known as “The Troubles.”
Despite a fairly rough history, the Irish always seem to be optimistic, joyful, and occasionally magical. It shows in their films, which is why I have loved so many of them. I’ve learned that you don’t have to be Irish to love these films. You just need to have a soul that is open to laughing and growing.
I have had this blog in a draft form for over a year but after recently watching Brooklyn, it kicked me to finish it.
Here are five of the most impactful Irish movies as well as a few others I recommend.
When a lottery winner dies of shock, his fellow townsfolk attempt to claim the money. And yes, this is a comedy.
If you want to get a sense of the dark humor of the Irish, you’ll love this movie. A word of warning, there is crazy old man nudity in a race to cover up one of the funniest movie plots in years.
If I were to name my favorite Irish movie, it would be this. Follow along some down and outers from North Dublin who try to make is as a “soul” band. It has some of the foulest language but the finest of Irish-accented deliveries. Every year I put the soundtrack on the stereo to hear the Irish soul of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett.
I’ve written about this before as I still believe it is one of the most beautiful and relevant depictions of the Gospel (other than the actual Gospel) ever on film. Enough said.
Here you see a grown up Glen Hansard (from his teenage years with The Commitments). He plays an unnamed Irish street musician in Dublin trying to get by. He meets a young female immigrant from Eastern Europe who shares his loves for music. You see their love of music and longing for connection blossom in the movie. And again, the soundtrack is golden.
What a delightful movie about courage, family, community, friendship, loneliness, and love. The movie thrives because of the subtle wins for the main character played by Saoirse Ronan and feels more like real life than the over the top dramatic. One of my favorite writers, Nick Hornby (Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, About a Boy), wrote the screenplay.
Other great Irish films I recommend:
- In the Name of the Father
- Michael Collins
- The Boxer
- 71′ – not technically Irish but set in Northern Ireland
- Bloody Sunday
- The Wind That Shakes the Barley
- My Left Foot
- Other notes:
- I did not see Angela’s Ashes so please don’t hit me.
- And before anyone brings it up…P.S. I Love You and Patriot Games don’t quite qualify.