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Evelyn Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
Based on a true story, this involving, compelling film actually deserves comparison to Capra's classic tales of triumph over adversity--sharp, engaging, moving and real. Desmond Doyle (Brosnan) is a carpenter in 1953 Dublin whose three children are taken from him when his wife deserts them. According to the law, a single father cannot be a fit parent. But Doyle is determined to get his children back, and with the help of a barmaid (Margulies) enlists a pair of lawyers (Rea and Quinn) and a salty legal veteran (Bates) to challenge the church and the government ... all the way up to the Supreme Court. And it's his plucky daughter Evelyn (Vavasseur) who tips the scales.

It sounds extremely heartwarming--and indeed it is! But it's also well enough made to undercut the sweetness with earthy humour and authentic characters. Beresford knows that the story is a strong one, yet he wisely concentrates on the people, and as a result draws us in with real power. Brosnan goes against type here brilliantly, playing the underdog Jimmy Stewart role with raw honesty and real energy. And the rest of the cast is just as good, combining comedy with drama and even a bit of romance to keep us completely gripped to the strong, history-changing storyline. The only slightly false misstep is to vilify one nun (Irvine), who is indeed cruel, but is left as one of the movie-style villains of the piece. Yes, it's a bit warm and quaintly Irish (down to the freckled children and rosy-cheeked barmaid!), but it's also a crackling story about the difference between the law and justice.

cert PG themes 11.Mar.03

dir Bruce Beresford
scr Paul Pender
with Pierce Brosnan, Julianna Margulies, Stephen Rea, Alan Bates, Aidan Quinn, Sophie Vavasseur, Andrea Irvine, John Lynch, Frank Kelly, Claire Mullan, Karen Ardiff, Marian Quinn
release US 13.Dec.02; UK 21.Mar.03
02/Ireland 1h34

Just look at yourself. A barmaid (Margulies) helps Doyle (Brosnan) pull himself together for his big court appearance.

rea bates quinn
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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall