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Awesome: 13.33%
Worth A Look: 0%
Pretty Bad: 6.67%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 3 user ratings

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Rory O'Shea Was Here
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by Erik Childress

"As If Irish Accents Weren’t Hard Enough To Understand, Just Add Palsy"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: How many free spirits have you met in your life? I’m sure you may have run across someone like that here and there, living outside the system or preaching that they do (or shall some day.) Maybe it’s all in degree of how uptight you are since your stuffiness is in direct contrast to how free that other person is. For the love of St. Patrick, what are we talkin’ here? The kind of uncaged birds I’m meanin’ exist sorely in the mooo-vies. They’re always there to show another character what’s been missin’ in der liiii-ves. Rory O’Shea certainly isn’t the first uninhibited loudmouth, not even within the wheelchair culture he is bound to. Just don’t expect him to fly over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Rory O’Shea (James McAvoy) is not the cinematographer I happened to come upon by chance on the IMDB. Instead he’s a young man inflicted with Muscular Dystrophy who is just the life of the party. That’s easy to do when your audience is filled mainly with those who can barely speak and you’re as inconsiderate as can be. The administration where he resides, headed by Nurse Eileen (Brenda Fricker) make such out-of-line requests as turning his heavy metal down from an eleven. The bitches!

Rory finds a comrade in Michael Connolly (Steven Robertson), a patient with palsy severe enough to destroy his speech. Rory has some experience with such lads and is able to understand him, which gives Michael a reason to blindly follow him outside the rules and into bars. A taste of freedom has the pair pining to have their own place and are able to convince the hospital board thanks to a little blackmail and hiring new acquaintance, Siobhan (Romola Garai), who has no nursing qualifications whatsoever except for the way she fills an outfit.

Making matters worse are the crushes that both boys develop on their buxom little tease. Michael clearly has it hard for Siobhan and probably believes this is his best chance in a life filled with older nurses and women who wouldn’t give him a second look because of his condition. It’s to the movie’s strength that it doesn’t reduce this area to just simplistic romanticized terms. There’s a harsh reality awaiting Michael and we feel his pain even as he goes about expressing his love in the worst way. Other than this, the film takes all the turns we expect it to right up to a final act that reverses heroism into martyrdom and cheats on any positivity it was trying to salvage.

Credit the actors for keeping us on our feet most of the way though. James McAvoy is quite good as Rory, even while I generally disliked who he was playing. Plus, I had to look up whether or not him and Robertson were actually afflicted, so that little bit of research is worth a few acting points. The film’s best performance though is a little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gem from Tom Hickey as Rory’s father. Sure, he doesn’t come along that often and brings him beer on his birthday, but pay careful attention to the way Hickey interacts with McAvoy in just a few scenes. It’s the performance of a father who quietly wishes there was something more he could do for his son while trying to maintain a positive relationship. It’s a subtle, striking piece of acting.

Rory O’Shea comes from the long line of Randall McMurphy’s and Nikki Finn’s in movies out to change the disadvantaged and lame from a life of zero risks and law-abiding that never bores their subject until they come along to reveal first-hand what they’ve been missing. Just once, wouldn’t you like to see a movie about the square that gets the renegade to enjoy THEIR way of life without minimalizing the quality of life that the “good” guy has established? Rory O’Shea Was Here certainly isn’t the most cloying of the handicapped dramas but doesn’t earn the special status it’s fighting for.

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originally posted: 02/18/05 16:15:08
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival. For more in the 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/04/05 Andrew It's a very good movie.It's help us to understand how we have the chance to be normal.Rgood 5 stars
3/23/05 Victoria Ross Kind of boring. 2 stars
2/01/05 scott baumgardner Hopefully will be in a theatre soon. 5 stars
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  04-Feb-2005 (R)
  DVD: 14-Jun-2005



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