Dancing at Lughnasa
directed by Pat O'Connor
(Sony, 1999)

It's 1936 Ireland, and the world is on the verge of many things. The five Mundy sisters live together in a small cottage with Michael, the love child they all share.

Comes summer, and two men come to change their lives. Father John, the elder brother, has returned from his mission in Africa -- he says, to die. Gerry, Michael's father, also comes to stay the summer before he goes to enlist to fight Franco in Spain.

The film depicts a world of contrasts -- Catholic strictures vs. Ireland's pagan Lughnasa rituals, cottage industry vs. industrialism. The country is on the brink of a war that will change the world irrevocably -- and the family itself is changing, getting restless and moving in different directions.

I won't kid you, Lughnasa is grim. It's also lovely. The casting is great -- Meryl Streep as the strait-laced schoolteacher is a bit over the top, but Michael Gambon as Father John is just delightful. And there's the scenery -- and the music. Dancing at Lughnasa is a very worthwhile watch and an essential for fans of Irish film.

review by
Becky Kyle

5 April 2008

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new