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Evelyn (2002)

1953. Desmond Doyle is devastated when his wife abandons their family on the day after Christmas. His unemployment, and the fact that there is no woman in the house to care for the children... See full summary »


Bruce Beresford


Paul Pender

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2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Sophie Vavasseur ... Evelyn Doyle
Niall Beagan Niall Beagan ... Dermot Doyle
Hugh McDonagh Hugh McDonagh ... Maurice Doyle (as Hugh Macdonagh)
Pierce Brosnan ... Desmond Doyle
Mairead Devlin Mairead Devlin ... Charlotte Doyle
Frank Kelly ... Henry Doyle
Claire Mullan Claire Mullan ... Mrs. Daisley
Alvaro Lucchesi Alvaro Lucchesi ... Inspector Logan
Garrett Keogh Garrett Keogh ... District Judge
Daithi O'Suilleabhain Daithi O'Suilleabhain ... Brother Eustace (as Daithi O'Suillebhain)
Andrea Irvine Andrea Irvine ... Sister Brigid
Marian Quinn ... Sister Theresa
Karen Ardiff Karen Ardiff ... Sister Felicity
Julianna Margulies ... Bernadette Beattie
Bosco Hogan ... Father O'Malley


1953. Desmond Doyle is devastated when his wife abandons their family on the day after Christmas. His unemployment, and the fact that there is no woman in the house to care for the children, Evelyn, Dermot, and Maurice, make it clear to the authorities that his is an untenable situation. The Irish courts put the Doyle children into Church-run orphanages. Although a sympathetic judge assures Desmond that he'll get his children back after he gets a job, he learns there's another barrier. During that time, Evelyn suffers abuse, while Desmond goes to court to get his children back. A barmaid, her brother, her suitor, and a tippling footballer become Desmond's team.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The story of a father's love that changed a nation



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic material and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:



Germany | Ireland | USA | UK | Netherlands



Release Date:

25 December 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Disputa See more »


Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$65,344, 15 December 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,483,975, 4 May 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Evelyn's mother is said to have gone to Australia with her lover, but in reality, she went to England and ended up raising another family there. The real Evelyn Doyle eventually saw her mother on more than one occasion, but they never reconciled. See more »


In the scene when Desmond is cutting out the pictures of his wife, he cuts their wedding photo diagonally, so that her body remains in the photo. In the next scene, he throws the same photo into the fire, but this time it's been cut vertically - completely out of the photo. See more »


[first lines]
Dermot Doyle: Evelyn, did Jesus have a big sister?
Evelyn Doyle: No Dermot, he wasn't as lucky as you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Slippery Sam is the greyhound who wins the race. See more »


Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #22.7 (2005) See more »


Angel Rays
Written by Gemma Hayes (as Hayes) / Stephen Endelman (as Endelman)
Performed by Gemma Hayes
Courtesy of Source Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Very Touching, Involving Story
24 August 2006 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

This is a wonderful movie.

I admit this movie is manipulative, and probably exaggerated for purposes of drama, but what based-on-a-true story movies aren't? At least it goes after the right things: a father having custody of his kids, rather than them being forced to live in an "institution."

The story is based a true situation in the mid 1950s Ireland in which, in the end, the Irish Constitution was amended because of this case. "Desmond Doyle" (Pierce Brosnan) is the loving father whose wife runs off one day with another man, leaving him with three little kids and little visible means of support. Since he didn't have enough finances, the government makes the kids wards of the state and places them in Catholic schools-homes (institutions?).

On that Catholic, or "religious," angle, you get a lot of positive and negative scenes here. You have a bad, nasty almost sadistic nun "Sister Brigid," but the others are fine caring ladies, as they should be. Overall, however, you see a lot of faith portrayed in this film and it's mostly good. Of course, that faith was more out in the open in the '50s than today, but it was inspiring to see in many parts.

Brosnan is excellent in the lead role, a man everyone can identify with: a loving but flawed man. He drinks too much, he swears, he doesn't have a steady job but he has great heart and has great determination to the right thing. One has no trouble rooting for him in this story. I think it's the best role he has ever played, far better than his superficial James Bond or thieves roles he normally plays.But nobody hits you as emotionally as little Evelyn (Sophie Vavasseur), one of Doyle's three kids and the one that is focused upon here. (The two little brothers are not given much screen time, for some reason.) Brosnan's allies in here - the two lawyers (played by Stephen Rea and Aiden Quinn) are likable as is Alan Bates who plays a rugged ex-barrister who winds up helping the team. Bates might have had the best role for the supporting actors.

This is such an involving story, one that you really care about the people, it can bring a tear or two in the end, but what's wrong with that? When you are finished watching this film, you feel good.

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