The Closer You Get

dir Aileen Ritchie scr William Ivory
with Ian Hart, Sean McGinley, Niamh Cusack, Sean McDonagh, Cathleen Bradley, Pat Shortt, Ewan Stewart, Ruth McCabe, Risteard Cooper, Frank Laverty, Deborah Barnett, Dessie Gallagher
Fox 00/Ireland 3 out of 5 stars

Review by Rich Cline
From the producer of The Full Monty (with another first-time writer-director team), The Closer You Get examines the male-female divide through a clever, warmly funny story about desperation. It's a gentle comedy full of very well-defined characters who each take a journey through the story--and as such it's extremely entertaining and satisfying, even if it's not terribly demanding.

We're in the far reaches of Ireland, in a small coastal village in County Donegal, where the residents' only entertainment is the film night sponsored by Father Mallone (Cooper). They gather to watch The Ten Commandments, only to find that the reels have been switched ... it's 10 instead. And the sight of Bo Derek cavorting on the beach spurs the lonely, single men to action. They place an ad for wives in the Miami Herald then sit back and wait for the influx of fit and sporty young American girls. But of course things don't go to plan. The village women have a plot of their own.

The point is that the closer you are to something the harder it is to see it. And we figure out from the very beginning that the macho butcher (Hart) is really in love with his assistant (Bradley), that the shepherd (McGinley) and the abandoned innkeeper's wife (Cusack) have a thing for each other, and so on. But the way the characters come to life is thoroughly engaging and often quite funny as it pits the male and female camps against each other. Still, there are very few surprises... and the occasional movie cliche clunks loudly. But there are some nice touches (it doesn't look all mystical and magical like most rural village comedies), and it's rare to find a film you can just sit back and enjoy.

[12--themes, language] 31.May.00
UK release Summer.00

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Martina, Italy: "I just wanted to say I enjoyed it so much! Music and landscapes contribute to create a surreal world for surreal characters which the actors (all great) manage to make believable. Being a non-native speaker, I had many difficulties with the accent, but I did not miss the fun. Some scenes are incredibly hilarious!" (19.Mar.04)
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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall