Based on the true story of the 1981 hunger strike in a British prison, in which IRA prisoner Bobby Sands led a protest against the treatment of IRA prisoners as criminals rather than as ...
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James Carroll Jordan
Based on the true story of the 1981 hunger strike in a British prison, in which IRA prisoner Bobby Sands led a protest against the treatment of IRA prisoners as criminals rather than as prisoners of war. The film focuses on the mothers of two of the strikers, and their struggle to save the lives of their sons. Written by
Alexander Lum <email@example.com>
The film is clearly set in a border seaside fishing village in Ireland. However, Kathleen is clearly seen voting in the Fermanagh-South Tyrone by-election: a completely land-locked constituency. See more »
We want to make the prisons an asset, not a liability. It is in the prisons that we will break the backs of the IRA.
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I must admit up front, being Irish-American and Catholic, I am biased towards these types of stories. That said, I would like to think I can dismiss message movies which are bad even if I agree with the message(for example, I am anti-nuclear, and I dislike the anti-nuclear movie FAT MAN AND LITTLE BOY). I remember the Bobby Sands hunger strike quite vividly, as I was 13 at the time, and taking an interest in the world around me. Of course, I was naive as well, thinking the IRA was wholly good here, not yet knowing there were many shades of grey here.
Terry George co-wrote with Jim Sheridan both IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER and THE BOXER, both of which Sheridan also directed. Rather than doing a by the book approach, Sheridan used a poetic approach, which helped make the movies more provocative. George, on the other hand, is more blunt(to be fair, it's hard to make a poetic film about hunger strikes), which is limiting, but the power of the story does come through.
What does lift this are the performances. Finnoula Flanagan I only knew from a guest spot on "Beauty and the Beast," but she's quite good here as the hardline mother. And she does bring some dimension to it; watch the dinner scene right before her son is captured, where she shows pride in her son without overdoing it, and her first scene with Mirren, where she states her case simply, without histrionics. The best performance, however, and the best reason to see this, is Mirren. She's more well-known for playing strong-willed characters("Prime Suspect," THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE), so it's a bit of a shock to see her as a confused woman, but she shows us every step of the way her emotional journey without slipping into pathos.
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