6.3/10
3,058
48 user 44 critic

Dancing at Lughnasa (1998)

Five unmarried sisters make the most of their simple existence in rural Ireland in the 1930s.

Director:

Writers:

(play), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Plenty (1985)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A young Englishwoman spends twenty years to make whatever kind of life for herself, at the expense of others around her, in post-World War II England.

Director: Fred Schepisi
Stars: Meryl Streep, Sam Neill, André Maranne
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Two parents deal with the effects when their son is accused of murdering his girlfriend.

Director: Barbet Schroeder
Stars: Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, Edward Furlong
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A career woman reassesses her parents' lives after she is forced to care for her cancer-stricken mother.

Director: Carl Franklin
Stars: Meryl Streep, Renée Zellweger, William Hurt
Evening (2007)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A drama exploring the romantic past and emotional present of Ann Grant and her daughters, Constance and Nina. As Ann lays dying, she remembers, and is moved to convey to her daughters, the defining moments in her life 50 years prior, when she was a young woman. Harris is the man Ann loves in the 1950s and never forgets.

Director: Lajos Koltai
Stars: Vanessa Redgrave, Toni Collette, Claire Danes
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Story of a schoolteacher's struggle to teach violin to inner-city Harlem kids.

Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Meryl Streep, Cloris Leachman, Henry Dinhofer
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A Manhattan psychiatrist probes a patient's murder and falls for the victim's mysterious mistress.

Director: Robert Benton
Stars: Roy Scheider, Meryl Streep, Jessica Tandy
Dark Matter I (2007)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Based on actual events, a Chinese university student responds violently when his chances for a Nobel Prize are dashed by school politics.

Director: Shi-Zheng Chen
Stars: Meryl Streep, Ye Liu, Peng Chi
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Respected liberal Senator Joe Tynan is asked to lead the opposition to a Supreme Court appointment. It means losing an old friend and fudging principles to make the necessary deals, as well... See full summary »

Director: Jerry Schatzberg
Stars: Alan Alda, Barbara Harris, Meryl Streep
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A mother whose child was killed in a Dingo attack in the Australian outback fights to prove her innocence when she is accused of murder.

Director: Fred Schepisi
Stars: Meryl Streep, Sam Neill, Dale Reeves
Ironweed (1987)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An alcoholic drifter spends Halloween in his home town of Albany, New York after returning there for the first time in decades.

Director: Hector Babenco
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Carroll Baker
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A look at what goes on backstage during the last broadcast of America's most celebrated radio show, where singing cowboys Dusty and Lefty, a country music siren, and a host of others hold court.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Lily Tomlin, Meryl Streep, Woody Harrelson
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

During shopping for Christmas, Frank and Molly run into each other. This fleeting short moment will start to change their lives, when they recognize each other months later in the train ... See full summary »

Director: Ulu Grosbard
Stars: Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Harvey Keitel
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Narration by (voice)
...
...
...
Christina Mundy
...
Maggie Mundy
...
Rose Mundy
Brid Brennan ...
...
Darrell Johnston ...
Michael Mundy
...
Danny Bradley
...
Father Carlin
Marie Mullen ...
Vera McLoughlin
Dawn Bradfield ...
Sophia McLoughlin
Peter Gowen ...
Austin Morgan
...
Chemist
Edit

Storyline

A young boy tells the story of growing up in a fatherless home with his unmarried mother and four spinster aunts in 1930's Ireland. Each of the five women, different from the other in temperament and capability, is the emotional support system, although at times reluctantly, for each other, with the eldest assuming the role of a 'somewhat meddling' overseer. But then into this comes an elderly brother, a priest too senile to perform his clerical functions, who has "come home to die" after a lifetime in Africa; as well, there also arrives the boy's father, riding up on a motorcycle, only to announce that he's on his way to Spain to fight against Franco. Nevertheless, life goes on for the five sisters, although undeniably affected by the presence of the two men, they continue to cope as a close-knit unit... until something happens that disrupts the very fabric of that cohesiveness beyond repair. Written by BOB STEBBINS <stebinsbob@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

boy | 1930s | ireland | time | motorcycle | See All (173) »

Taglines:

Five sisters embrace the spirit of a people.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild language and thematic elements | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

| |

Language:

Release Date:

13 November 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Dança das Paixões  »

Edit

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£97,077 (United Kingdom), 27 September 1998, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$83,759, 15 November 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,285,194, 11 April 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

During filming, the cast, including Meryl Streep, stayed at the Highlands Hotel in the village of Glenties, Donegal. The hotel is owned by relatives of Mark Flood. See more »

Goofs

The song 'The homes of Donegal' was written in 1955 while the movie was set in the 30s. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narration by: When I cast my mind back to that summer of 1936, different kinds of memories offer themselves to me. We got our first wireless set that summer. Well, a sort of a set, and it obsessed us. We called it Lugh, after the old pagan god of the harvest, and his festival was Lughnasa, a time of music and dance. Then my mother's brother, my uncle Jack came home from Africa for the first time in twenty five years. He was the oldest in the family, and the only boy.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, stills of African tribal dances and of Jack as priest in Africa are shown. See more »

Connections

Featured in Dancing at Lughnasa: On Location (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Down by the Salley Gardens
Poem by William Butler Yeats (as W.B. Yeats) (1889)
Set to music by various composers
Sung a cappella by Sophie Thompson and her sisters (uncredited)
Sung by Dolores Keane during the end credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Irish Stage, Irish Screen: An unhappy marriage
27 September 1998 | by See all my reviews

Watchable but instantly forgettable film of Brian Friel's award-winning play which provides its greatest pleasures through the strong performances of its ensemble cast. Five independent-minded sisters living in Donegal in the mid 1930s face the possibility of change when economic and emotional circumstances conspire against them. The return of their brother from religious missions in Africa signals the beginning, and as the pagan festival of Lughnasa, which celebrates the harvest and forebodes the coming of winter, is celebrated around them, they must come to terms with changes in their own relatively comfortable middle class world. The ten year old son of one of them views events with a nostalgic eye which nonetheless sees the hardship and heartbreak which occurs around him.

Despite director Pat O'Connor's valiant attempts to ‘open out' the play, the film is still extremely theatrical. The inclusion of landscape shots and the restaging of certain scenes in outdoor locations unavailable in the theatre does not really make the film cinematic. It merely adds visuals to what is still a complex series of linguistic exchanges which delineate and explore character. Authentic production design and costuming and the persistent presence of a traditional-themed score by Bill Whelan contribute to the feeling of the film, and with the help of good accent work by the cast, it manages to successfully evoke a feeling of time and place. However it remains an extremely well produced stage play on film, and is still bound by blocking and staging conventions which allow the actors to meet and greet one another to exchange their thoughts and feelings. The closest the film comes to a visual symbolic system is the use of dance and ritual to underscore the social and emotional tensions. The undercurrent of paganism which defines the relationships between people and their sense of the cosmos is constantly evoked (as it was in the play), and the film begins with a credit sequence featuring images of African tribes people in traditional costumes. But other than the climactic dance scene where the sisters celebrate their sisterhood to the strains of ceili music, the film rarely manages to escape the enclosed and cerebral world of the stage version.

But paradoxically, the reliance on actors plying their trade on well written words (rather than visuals) is the thing which saves the film from itself. Meryl Streep gives a convincing performance (and manages a creditable accent) as the repressed, authoritarian schoolteacher who heads the female clan, and she is more than matched by Michael Gambon's endearing performance as the slightly baffled priest whose exposure to the customs and rituals of Africa have coloured his perceptions of home. The rest of the cast (the non-stars, so to speak) are equally good, particularly Sophie Thompson as the simple minded Rose and Kathy Burke as the chain smoking Maggie. Catherine McCormack and Brid Brennan (the latter a veteran of the Abbey Theatre production) have less showy roles, but work distinctive characterisations in with those of the others with ease and skill. Supporting male performances from Rhys Ifans and young Darrell Johnston are also good, and the film also comes with a rich voice over provided by Gerard McSorley (who played the part of the the child at an adult remembering in the stage version).

This aspect of the film alone is probably worth the time and attention required to view it, but on the whole it is a less rewarding experience than the play itself. While an unfair basis upon which to criticise a work of adaptation, the material was perhaps fundamentally unsuited to cinematic treatment. Though Frank McGuinness has done his best to translate the themes and character issues, and has successfully done so insofar as it applies to theme and character, this is not so much a film version as a film of the play with some additional settings and scenes which prevent it from becoming completely unwatchable. What power it has comes from the power of the play, and it is mostly evinced at the level of verbal discourse. Theatrical adaptation is a minefield for film makers and has produced varying results in the past. Dancing at Lughnasa does not distinguish itself in the annals of this sub-section of film history, but for those patient enough with its lack of genuine cinematic interest, it offers certain pleasures which should pass the time painlessly enough.


12 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?
Review this title | See all 48 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

'Star Wars' Creatures We Love

"The IMDb Show" breaks down the origins of some iconic Star Wars creatures. Plus, legendary sword choreographer Tim Weske explains the basics of lightsaber combat.

Watch now