Irish filmmaker Damien O'Donnell's offbeat coming-of-age movie opens in Carrigmore, "a special home for special people" institution-speak for a tidy, well-maintained facility that allows the able-bodied to feel pretty good about abandoning their disabled relatives to its beige-on-beige confines. That's sweet-natured Michael Connolly's (Steven Robertson) story: Now in his early twenties, Michael, who has cerebral palsy, was abandoned to institutional care by his father, a famous jurist (Gerard McSorley) unable to deal with his son's muscle spasms and impeded speech. People assume he's slow-witted because they can't understand him, but Michael is intelligent, frustrated and stuck in the habit of passivity. Enter spiky-haired, wheelchair-bound Rory O'Shea (James McAvoy, who bears a distinct resemblance to Adrien Brody), a 20-year-old wasted by an especially aggressive form of muscular dystrophy. Though he can only use a couple of fingers on one hand, Rory is armed with a ferocious mouth and a furious will to shake up the status quo. He's barely in the door before he's offended Carrigmore's sweetly condescending director, Eileen (Brenda Fricker), and given everyone else notice that where Rory goes, trouble follows. Rory understands Michael's slurred words and Michael has enough mobility to help Rory do things his defiant hair, for starters which under the circumstances is more than enough to jump-start a friendship. Rory quickly lures Michael into mischief, like turning a day trip into town to collect money for the disabled into a marathon of drinking, chatting up girls and even going to a club. But for all his drive, Rory torpedoes his dream of securing an independent-living grant, which would pay for home care in a handicapped-accessible apartment, by mouthing off to the approvals committee. Michael, on the other hand, quickly figures out the game. With financial help from Michael's father Rory supplies the emotional blackmail necessary to secure his cooperation they move into an apartment and hire inexperienced but pretty and personable Siobhan (Romola Garai) as their home-care aide. What starts as a variation on ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST (1975) for the physically disabled, with Eileen playing Nurse Ratched to Rory's punky McMurphy, becomes a charming, if cliched, story of a sheltered young man's discovery of his own potential through the auspices of a good-hearted rapscallion. The manipulative climax works, even as you feel like the jerk in tear-jerking.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 2005
- Rating: R
- Review: Irish filmmaker Damien O'Donnell's offbeat coming-of-age movie opens in Carrigmore, "a special home for special people" institution-speak for a tidy, well-maintained facility that allows the able-bodied to feel pretty good about abandoning their dis… (more)