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It's the mid 1960s. With a long tradition of Irish music in their bloods, middle aged John Joe McMahon and younger Jimmy McMahon, two of three brothers, grew up in County Clare, Ireland. They have long been estranged, their falling out over a woman. John Joe, still living in County Clare, has never married, while Jimmy, who long left County Clare to live in Liverpool, is on wife number five and probably counting. As fiddlers, they each lead their own ceili band, following those strict musical conventions in which they were raised. As such, Jimmy's talented flautist, Teddy, exasperates him if only because of Teddy being musically influenced by among others The Beatles. John Joe's band has won the best ceili band competition at the prestigious annual Irish music festival three years running. This year, Jimmy's band will also be in attendance for the first time. John Joe and Jimmy do not want to see each other and do whatever they can to ensure the other does not make it to the festival.... Written by
Some films may be predictable, with minimal storyline and action sequences and still be a hit. THE BOYS AND GIRL FROM COUNTY CLARE hits that description on target. This is an emerald of a jaunty little Irish tale that thoroughly entertains with a fine cast and superb Irish music and leaves the audience wholly satisfied - AND has a fine social comment! The setting is County Clare where the International Irish Music festival is at hand. For years John-Joe McMahon (Bernard Hill) and his little band have won the ceili (Irish dance music) band competition. Members of his hometown orchestra include young Anne (Andrea Corr) and her unmarried grumpy piano-playing mother Maisie (Charlotte Bradley). Word comes round that John-Joe's long estranged brother Jimmy (Colm Meaney) has a band from Liverpool, a band that includes Liverpudlian types including young and handsome flautist Teddy (Shaun Evans) and is aimed in the direction of the Festival to compete. In fine Irish tradition the two mutually angry brothers try to sabotage each other's appearance, but alas they both come face to face in the competition. With Jimmy's arrival we discover that Maisie's negative outlook comes from the fact that Jimmy is the one who wantonly got her pregnant and Anne is Jimmy's daughter. Maisie is forced to admit to Anne her betrayal of ancestry news and the mother/daughter relationship is strained to the breaking point.
Anne and Teddy (naturally) fall for each other and the two of them decide to return to Liverpool after the festival ends with neither's band the winner. This development is threatening to Maisie and she finally confronts Jimmy with her pent up resentment and disappointment. How the young ones cope with their situation and emotions and resolve the problem of distance is the finale of this sweet story and is best left to the viewer to discover.
The acting is homogeneously fine with the comedy and drama in fine balance. And oh the music! Director John Irvin has created a little jewel of a film that warms the proverbial cockles of your heart. Grady Harp
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