Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Irish Roots

To get in the mood for “wearin’ of the green” on St. Patrick’s Day, I’m reminiscing about a trio of great films concerning Ireland and the Irish. My three favorites are Veronica Guerin, Dancing at Lughnasa and This Is My Father.

Although Veronica Guerin has been criticized for casting non-Irish Cate Blanchett in the role of Dublin’s fearless journalist who brought down gangsters and drug lords, I was blown away by the film and by Blanchett’s searing performance.

I was also impressed by the superb acting in Dancing at Lughnasa, a moving film about five unmarried sisters who face some very hard times during the 1930s in Ireland. It’s inspiring to see the way these women gain strength and courage from each other. In one memorable scene, the sisters break into wild dancing to celebrate themselves and their heritage.

This Is My Father has special meaning for me because I interviewed Aidan Quinn, who starred in the movie. Filmed mostly in Ireland, the film features Aidan as a poor Irish farmer, circa 1939, who falls for a young lass outside his social class. During the interview, I mentioned to Aidan how much I admired his performance, partly because of my Irish roots. I told him about my grandmother stowing away on a boat when she was only 14 years old and coming to America because she wanted to get away from her brothers who mistreated her in Ireland. ” What did they do to her?” Aidan asked.

“She refused to tell us,” I replied.

Aidan shook his head and frowned. He really wanted to know the answer to his question! Besides being a splendid actor, he’s a very nice man.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, movie fans.

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