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I enjoyed this film. The story begins when Kittie O'Shea(Francesca Annis) is challenged by the refusal of the Irish Politican, Charles Stewart Parnell(Trevor Eve), to appear at her many dinner parties. She swears that before the next month is out, she will serve Parnell dinner. Kittie goes to Parnells lodgings which he uses as an office. She asks to see him in the palace courtyard. Frustrated at her appearance, Parnell goes to see her to send her away. When he meets her, he realizes that she isn't the woman he expected. The two flirt and she wins his appearance at her next dinner, where she introduces him to her husband. O'Shea, the minor politician, offers his services as liason between the Home Rule Party and the British Liberals. Then he prepares to return to town, against Kittie's wishes. Kittie had asked him to stay to prevent scandle, but he does not. After walking the halls, Kittie finally gives in to her desire for Parnell. That night Parnell and Kittie begin their relationship.
The following story continues to show how Parnells connection to Kittie led to his downfall. Parnell isolated himself from one of his staunch supporters, when his assistant, Timothy Healy(Lorcan Cranitch), opens a letter from Kittie to Parnell, telling him of his new born daughter. Parnell's enmity to Healy grows into a pure hatred as Healy, still believing that Parnell is the only chance for Irish Independence, comes to the realization that Parnell is a liability to the party, which might turn the Catholic Church away from the party, which would lead the Catholic voters away. This eventually happened.
I had mixed emotion about the story. David Robb as Capt. O'Shea was detestable and I couldn't blame Kittie for looking for another man. At the same time, I liked, then disliked, then liked again the character of Parnell. He was single minded man who was devoted to Irish Independence. He was charismatic and tough. He believed that he was the only hope for Irish Home Rule. Parnell had united Ireland under the umbrella of the Irish National Land League. Under his leadership, several important Land Acts were approved by the House of Commons. When it came down to it, he was right. After his death in 1891, his prediction that Irish politics would devolve into factions without him, was proved right and only united once again under the leadership of Michael Collins.
The relationship between Charles Stewart Parnell(Trevor Eve) and Kathryn O'Shea(Francesca Annis) began in 1880 and lasted until his death in 1891.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film due to the major actors involved. I am a fan of Trevor Eve and this was an example of his many talents. His performance led me to dislike and like the character of Parnell. At one point, I wanted to shoot him and at others I admired his passion. Francesca Annis was also very good. She played the staunch public wife figure for her husband, still feeling lonely and unloved. When she first meets Parnell, she sees in him
everything she wanted in life. Annis takes the woman who, at first, selfish and scheming to a unselfish woman devoted to Parnell and Irish Independence. David Robb was icky and detestable.
Though, the three main cast members could have carried the story by themselves, I would be remiss, if I didn't include the wonderful performance by Lorcan Cranitch, who portrayed Timothy Healy. Even as his dislike for Parnell grew, he continued to support him as leader of the Party. Cranitch led his character from a dew-eyed worshipper to an angry man disillusioned by his heroes behavior.
I definitely recommend this film to anyone who wants to see strong performances and a good, emotional story.
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