I have seen this film twice now, the second time when I was lucky enough to view it at a screening attended by director Aisling Walsh and actor Ethan Hawke. Based on a true story, the film is a compelling portrait of Canadian folk artist, Maud Lewis, played by the wonderful Sally Hawkins, and focuses on her relationship and subsequent forty-year marriage with Everett, a fisherman, living hand to mouth. A cinematic treat for the senses, Maudie reflects the 1930’s small town mentality, particularly through the prevalent attitudes to her free spirit and her disability, rheumatoid arthritis, a painful condition that grew progressively worse as she aged. The film also charts her path to becoming an accomplished folk artist while never flinching from the hardships endured by Maudie as she shares her life with Everett in their tiny shack. No spoilers here, but there is also a particularly poignant element to Maudie’s story that I guarantee will bring on the tears! An Irish / Canadian co-production, Maudie is a study of the resilience and tenacity of a gifted artist in the face of adversity.
What a beautiful gothic horror film. Directed by Brian O’Malley and written by David Turpin, The Lodgers is set in rural Ireland in 1920, and filmed on location in Loftus Hall, Wexford. In a crumbling mansion filled with secrets, twins Edward and Rachel keep to themselves, cursed by the nightly visitors who keep a tight reign on the brother and sister with a set of rules that have dire consequences upon breaking. Until that is, Rachel encounters a young man from the local village, a wounded war veteran, and she begins to see another life outside of her prison home. The production design on this film is stunning, the story highly original, and the ending, just perfect!
Frances McDormand plays a determined mother who rents three billboards to bring attention to the unsolved rape and murder of her daughter. Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, this film is searing in the level of violence and diverse characterisation that covers racism, suicide, grief and revenge. And it works, probably due to the perfect casting of McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson et al. And there is comedy, mostly black, that keeps the viewer from going under at the sheer harshness of the subject matter.
“Lady Beth is a perfectly paced page-turner of a novel which keeps the tension taut at all times. The darker side of Dublin city is perfectly judged, with well-rounded characters filling out the scenes around the titular Beth. Beth herself is a fantastic character moving seamlessly from unassuming office worker to avenging mother with an impressive lack of melodrama. Caroline has a filmic eye and the book swirls with a wonderful noir atmosphere as Beth digs deep into her past in order to build herself a future.” 746books.com
‘Just finished reading Lady Beth. What a fast-moving story, very well researched, written with a lively imagination and I personally would love to see it made into a film. That storyline has Oscar written all over it.’ Mary Malone. Reader
Written by Greta Gerwig, this is also her directorial debut, and is, perhaps semi-autobiographical. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird is a delightful coming of age drama, set in 2002, that explores a teenage girl’s challenges at school and home, and in her relationships with friends, boys and quite poignantly – with her mother – played superbly by Laurie Metcalf. Christine insists on being called Lady Bird, and thinks her life will be better once she gets away from her hometown of Sacramento, and to a college that her parents can ill afford. Aspiring for a life on the better side of the tracks, as she sees it, Lady Bird is funny and strong-willed, stumbling along as she reaches out to find her place in the world. Already such an accomplished actress, this is yet another captivating portrayal from Saoirse.
A collection of short stories that won the Eludia Prize, all weaving to connect several generations of a family living through the turbulent times of Northern Ireland’s troubled history. It took me quite a while to finish this book, there was so much to absorb in each story. These narratives are succinct and deeply rooted in characterisation, connection to land and to identity. There is an energy in the writing, a defiance that emanates from the characters as we journey with them through their dilemmas. The tension seems palpable – the mother determined to drive her child to school under threat – a harsh reminder of the menace encountered for so long by the communities in the north. There are universal themes too – the young woman left pregnant and abandoned – and not just by the American GI she fell for. With undulating humour and poignancy, relationships are at the core of this collection, a sense of place hovering in the folds of each scenario, The Accidental Wife is altogether a compelling debut from this prize-winning author.
Gabriel is a drummer in a band. He is also bi-polar. To curb his erratic behaviour and tendencies towards arson, he is persuaded to join a football team. There he meets Christopher, the goalkeeper, a teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome. An uneasy friendship develops between the two as each learn to understand the foibles of the other. Written and directed by Nick Kelly, this is a subtle observation of mental health issues, of living outside of what society views as ‘normal’ and of finding friendship where you least expect to. Praise too for the performances from Dermot Murphy and Jacob McCarthy. A lovely film, The Drummer and The Keeper delivers poignancy with just the right amount of good humour.