Archives For Irish movies

There is something about the Irish.

Their accents.

Their humor,

or humour.

Their music.

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.

Waking Ned Devine (1998)

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.

The Commitments (1991)

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.

Calvary (2014)

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.

Once (2007)

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.

Brooklyn (2015)

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:

  • Evelyn
  • 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.

This week has left me a bit unsettled in terms of movies. The Oscars came and went I just sighed, “oh well.”

I am usually pretty spot on with movie award nominations (and winners) but this year has been all over the place with no single film standing out for the masses.

As there are so many good books that get overlooked, there are also so many good movies who suffer the same anonymity, especially in the flare of blockbusters.

One that sticks out is the 2014 filmcalvary-8Calvary, starring Brendan Gleeson (remember Hamish from Braveheart?), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), and Kelly Reilly (Flight). It is an Irish-made film by the talented director, John Michael McDonagh. I watched it in theater last year and then again this past week at home. I have always had an affinity toward Irish films like The Commitments, Waking Ned Devine, Michael Connolly, In the Name of the Father, Bloody Sunday, and Once. There is something about the unique dry humor in Irish films as well as their ability to hit some of the deepest emotional themes in life through storytelling.

Calvary may just be one of the finest films that has ever moved me. My film aficionado friend Erik Parks featured Calvary as the top movie of 2014, even beating out some of the Oscar winners this year. I agree with him.

 

The Irish sure know how to tell a story, especially a familiar story.

Erik shared a great overview of the movie from his blog:

The opening of this film shows a good priest in confession as he listens to a mystery man recount his years of sexual abuse by a bad priest. He then tells the good priest that as an act of revenge, he plans on killing him in a week. Crazy setup but a fantastic film that shows a faithful man of God dealing with psychological torture as he continues to love and care for the wicked people of his town. Mercy, love, forgiveness and ultimately Christ-likeness are the overarching themes in this dark, but extraordinary little Irish film. (Rated R for sexual references, language, brief strong violence and some drug use.)

calvary-butcherI’m not sure why people are so afraid of the Gospel. When you read about Jesus, this is what we get. It’s very R-rated. It’s bloody. It’s violent. It’s poignant and challenging. As you read in the Bible within the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you get the nitty-gritty of Jesus’ life and death and in Calvary the movie, it follows well. That is why Calvary succeeds because it doesn’t hold back from real life.

Calvary may be the best movie representation of the Gospel I’ve ever seen.

It is rich with symbolism as well as lines to make you contemplate and pray over.

Father James Lavelle: “God is great and the limits of his mercy have not been set.”

——-

Father James Lavelle: I think there’s too much talk about sins to be honest not enough talk about virtues.

Fiona Lavelle: What would be your number one?

Father James Lavelle: I think forgiveness has been highly underrated.

——-

Father James Lavelle: He was a good man, your husband? (to a lady who just lost her husband)

Teresa: Yes. He was a good man. We had a very good life together. We loved each other very much. And now… he has gone. And that is not unfair. That is just what happened. But many people don’t live good lives. They don’t feel love. That is why it’s unfair. I feel sorry for them.

calvary3Your life will be changed after watching it. My encouragement is to go see for yourself and let me know what you think.