|The suffering of the Irish has been a popular topic of discussion for feature films for decades now and with the release of Evelyn, Australian director Bruce Beresford brings to the screen a well-balanced story of humor and drama that allows Pierce Brosnan to stretch his legs far away from his secret agent personality. Though the Bond films have done wonders for Brosnan's continued popularity, this latest installment being the most popular ever of the series, Brosnan has said that the hefty paychecks he receives allow him to participate in smaller independent films.|
And Evelyn certainly qualifies as an independent venture, as the budget on this film was certainly much smaller. But that is not to say that a film with such a budget cannot be just as effective as one with access to more funds. Although it is not the hardest hitting drama to hit the screen, it is still a guiltlessly enjoyable film. The outcome of the film isn't too hard to determine after mere ten minutes into it, but the hour and a half long sentimental journey still carries with it a great deal of heart and sincerity which makes it a joy to sit through. Not that one should even think about this movie as being something to "sit through."
Because although the Irish strife and power of the church in 1940's Ireland could have been played up some more, this movie is much more inspirational than hard-hitting anyway. With its references to "angel light" (the visible rays from the sun that shine through clouds), and the tear-jerking speeches made by various members of the cast, the creators of Evelyn make sure to pull at the audience's heart-strings at every opportunity. The amount of death and destruction in Ireland during this time is not as apparent on screen as it was in the much darker, Angela's Ashes, but that was a different film with a different purpose.
It would be much fairer to say that Evelyn was created to tell a very worthy true story and bring some innocent entertainment into the hearts of moviegoers. This film really resembles the recent Tuck Everlasting in its feel and presentation (though Evelyn is more effective dramatically). A great many of the reasons why this film is so enjoyable are the performances from the actors picked to play these roles. Brosnan's performance is so heart-felt and realistic that you'd think this was a documentary showing the real grief of a father who had lost his children, rather than just a fictional account of one.
In her supporting role, Julianna Margulies gives her best and possibly most engaging performance in a feature film since her departure from television's "ER." Playing Brosnan's love interest and one of the corners of a love triangle between Brosnan and fellow supporting actor, Aidan Quinn, Margulies dances the line between comedy and drama very well. And the same can be said for every actor in the cast. There is an inherent comedian present in the heart of every Irishman (and woman!) and when the characters joke about the Drink, English people, or the rain, the picture lightens up considerably. Not that its temperament was that morbid to begin with.
In point of fact, Alan Bates, an Englishman in real life who seems to have no qualms about putting down his own people, plays a usually drunk former lawyer and rugby player whose constant stream of British bashing jokes are some of the funniest lines of dialogue in the film. And ten year old Sophie Vavasseur, in her first feature film, plays her role as Evelyn Doyle, Brosnan's daughter and the person for whom the film is named, with a great deal of intelligence and sagacity. And Frank Kelly is certain to be a sentimental favorite with audiences for his genuine yet comedic performance as Brosnan's violin playing father.
And speaking of violins, the soundtrack for this picture deserves a mention, considering it makes the drama of the film suitably weighty. And seeing Brosnan get up on a stage and throw out a few Irish pub tunes (it sounds like his voice, perhaps it's actually him singing) certainly livens up the picture as well. This film is a family picture which is a moving experience that can list as its accomplishments a lack of disgusting toilet humor or overly depressing dramatics. Evelyn a movie that dares to be rather inspiring during a year of too many crass comedies and violent action films and plays the role of tear-jerker very well.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.