Orphans

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Drama

This brisk and bloody black comedy, written and directed by Scottish actor Peter Mullan (MY NAME IS JOE), follows four grown Glaswegian siblings as they journey through the longest night of their lives. On the eve of their mother's funeral, the Flynn orphans — Thomas (Gary Lewis), Michael (Douglas Henshall), Sheila (Rosemarie Stevenson) and John (Stephen...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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This brisk and bloody black comedy, written and directed by Scottish actor Peter Mullan (MY NAME IS JOE), follows four grown Glaswegian siblings as they journey through the longest night of their lives. On the eve of their mother's funeral, the Flynn orphans —

Thomas (Gary Lewis), Michael (Douglas Henshall), Sheila (Rosemarie Stevenson) and John (Stephen McCole) — gather at a local pub to raise a glass to the dear departed. When Thomas is heckled during a teary rendition of "The Air That I Breathe," Michael explodes, rushes to his brother's defense

and gets stabbed for his trouble. Michael refuses to go to the hospital until the next morning — he wants to go to work first and claim workman's comp — and so wanders off into the night, slowly bleeding to death. John vows revenge on his older brother's attacker and hooks up with his

cousin Tanga (Frank Gallagher), a crazed Chinese food deliveryman who promises to get John a shotgun. Thomas, the eldest, retreats into his misguided, self-righteous devotion to his mother and returns to the church for an all-night vigil with the wheelchair-bound Sheila. Sheila, however, wants to

go home and leaves in a snit. After smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary, her wheelchair breaks down on a dark and lonely street. As the long night wears on, Glasgow braces itself for a gale-force windstorm that seems to bring out the very worst in each of the motherless Flynns. Mullan's film is

filled with some marvelously funny bits, including a bilious pub owner who holds patrons prisoner in his storeroom, and Tanga, who goes window-peeping on a customer and gets a particularly nasty surprise. But it's not the humor nor the strong undercurrent of barely controlled mayhem that stays

with you. Mullan also packs an emotional uppercut that's as powerful — and unexpected — as anything else in the film. (In heavily accented English, with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This brisk and bloody black comedy, written and directed by Scottish actor Peter Mullan (MY NAME IS JOE), follows four grown Glaswegian siblings as they journey through the longest night of their lives. On the eve of their mother's funeral, the Flynn orpha… (more)

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