Grateful fans so enamored of traditional Irish folk music that they don't care how they come by it may enjoy John Irvin's folk-filled feature, but while there's lots of great Ceili music on tap, it's wrapped in a story so traditional that it's not especially interesting. It's the mid-'60s, the folk-music boom is in full swing and this year's All-Ireland Traditional Music Competition looks to be one of the most popular yet. Countless acts and music lovers of all persuasions from all over the globe have descended on the small County Clare village where the contest is to be held, but the bitterest showdown may the one between long-estranged, Ceili-playing brothers Jimmy (Colm Meaney) and John Joe McMahon (Bernard Hill). Natty Jimmy hasn't been back to County Clare since he left home more than 20 years ago to seek his fortune in Liverpool; he found it the world of construction and the arms of no fewer than five wives. He hasn't spoken to John Joe in all that time; a decades-old love affair and a bet involving their father's precious fiddle made enemies of the brothers. Jimmy and John Joe are equally determined to return home with the Irish Ceili Band trophy, and the contest begins before they ever reach their hometown. Each hoping to delay the other long enough so he'll miss the registration deadline, Jimmy hires a pair of thugs to incapacitate John Joe's van, while John Joe enlists a friend at customs to search Jimmy and his Liverpool Shamrock Ceili Band for stolen instruments. Everyone makes it in time anyway, but once the competition begins, the tension between John Joe's pianist, embittered and overprotective single mother Maisie (Charlotte Bradley) and her comely daughter, Anne (Andrea Corr, lead singer of the popular Irish group The Corrs), John Joe's star fiddler, kicks into high gear: Anne falls in love with Teddy (Shaun Evans), Jimmy's jazz-loving wooden-flute player. The soundtrack is filled with plenty of foot-stomping reels, slides, flings and jigs, but the plot is overly familiar and the unexpected overuse of the F-word, bit of nudity and lots of drunken vomiting make it dodgy viewing for the whole family. Irvin is also stumped by how to film the terrifically talented actors who don't really play the fiddle, wooden flute or Uilleann pipes; the fact that they're faking it is all too obvious and distracting.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Grateful fans so enamored of traditional Irish folk music that they don't care how they come by it may enjoy John Irvin's folk-filled feature, but while there's lots of great Ceili music on tap, it's wrapped in a story so traditional that it's not especial… (more)