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1 item from 1998

Film review: 'Southie'

5 October 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Like "Monument Ave.", also presented at the Montreal World Film Festival, John Shea's "Southie" is a drama set in the insular world of the Irish Boston underground. It explores familiar terrain in an effective if underwhelming manner and serves as a showcase for Donnie Wahlberg's budding thespian skills and Shea's well-textured direction.

Wahlberg plays Danny Quinn, who has returned to his Irish Catholic neighborhood of South Boston after a three-year absence. Now reformed and determined to avoid returning to a cycle of alcohol and crime, Danny soon finds that every time he tries to get out, they keep pulling him back in.

His family is a mess: His widowed mother (Anne Meara) is ill with a heart condition and increasingly distraught about her children; sister Kathy (Rose McGowan) is a self-destructive alcoholic; and brothers Davey (Robert Wahlberg) and Jimmy (Steve Koslowski) are in debt to the mob. His ex-girlfriend, Marianne (Amanda Peet), is bitter about his desertion and doesn't want anything to do with him, and his old nemesis, Joey Ward (James Cummings, who also co-scripted), is gunning for revenge.

Danny's old friends Whitey (Will Arnett) and Will (Josh Marchette) enlist him to help bankroll an after-hours gambling club, which he reluctantly agrees to after his opportunity for a legit construction job is scuttled by a brawl that breaks out between his brother and the son of the local union boss at a wedding reception. Unfortunately, Joey is another silent partner, and hell eventually breaks loose in a series of violent and tragic confrontations.

The film suffers from an overwrought narrative, with one melodramatic event after another. Not helping matters is Shea's tendency to indulge his actors, allowing them scenery-chewing histrionics that only accentuates the material's excesses.

Still, there's much raw talent on display, with Donnie Wahlberg matching brother Mark in terms of macho appeal and unforced naturalism and promising talents McGowan and Cummings providing equally vivid performances. Shea has a small role as Danny's cop cousin and underplays nicely. Lawrence Tierney, playing the local mob boss (who else?), provides his usual potent, noirish presence.

The film is most effective in its depiction of the insular world that the characters inhabit, with generous dashes of local color evocatively captured by Allen Baker's cinematography. The well-chosen soundtrack, featuring world and Celtic music as well as rap, adds greatly to the overall ambience.


Prophecy Pictures

Director: John Shea

Screenplay: John Shea, James Cummings, David McLaughlin

Producers: Hugh Wilson, Bill McCutchen, James Cummings, Michael Butler

Executive producers: Donnie Wahlberg, Carder Stout, Ron Habakus

Director of photography: Allen Baker

Editor: Tracy Granger

Music: Wayne Sharpe



Danny: Donnie Wahlberg

Kathy: Rose McGowan

Joey: James Cummings

Mrs. Quinn: Anne Meara

Colie: Lawrence Tierney

Davey: Robert Wahlberg

Jimmy: Steve Koslowski

Marianne: Amanda Peet

Whitey: Will Arnett

Will: Josh Marchette

Peter: John Shea

Running time -- 92 minutes

No MPAA rating


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1 item from 1998

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