Everybody has a story, which is the main problem with THE PLAYBOYS, an overstuffed if engaging drama set and shot in Ireland.
The closest the film comes to a central character, Tara Maguire (Robin Wright) gives birth as the movie begins. She's unmarried, which would be no big deal today. However, since this is a small town just south of the Northern Irish border during the 1950s, and she won't name the baby's father, it
is a very big deal at the time. The town pastor has more influence over the people than even the mayor or the constable. And the pastor wants Tara to be married. The pastor notwithstanding, there are few who would cross Hegarty (Albert Finney), the town's big, gruff cop with a sullen, violent
streak, who also happens to be in love with Tara and wants to marry her. Tara wants nothing to do with him and wants none of the pastor's scolding her from the pulpit, which he does, leading her to become an outcast of the town's polite society.
Tara also wants nothing to do with Tom Casey (Aidan Quinn), the handsome, genial lead player of a roving theatrical group, the Playboys. He wants plenty to do with her, however, which puts him at odds with Hegarty. It also puts him at odds with fate: Tara's last serious suitor committed suicide.
And Hegarty's not looking too well himself. A recovering alcoholic, he's feeling pressure from his superiors for not cracking down on smuggling to and from Northern Ireland. It's not a task he warms to, since Tara happens to be one of the smugglers, whose latest shipment contains a very special
package for an IRA partisan travelling incognito with the Playboys. The truth about Tara's baby almost sends Tom packing while the truth about Tom almost gets Tara to send him packing. Meanwhile Hegarty, realizing he has no hope with Tara, begins drinking again while mulling over some
less-than-legal ways to get Tom out of the way.
Along with co-screenwriter Kerry Crabbe, Shane Connaughton (MY LEFT FOOT) wrote THE PLAYBOYS as a loving tribute to his own childhood in a similar town, where his father was indeed the constable. Not surprisingly, it aspires to be a rich, sweeping epic of yearning and fulfillment, hope and
despair. The story, however, never quite finds a footing or focus, involving itself with too many crosscurrents and sub-plots within the town and within the troupe itself, lorded over by seasoned thespian and irrepressible schemer Freddie (Milo O'Shea). Though the writing is rich, sharp and
detailed, there's nothing really tying it all together.
Some of the performances are terrific, though the leads are questionable. As demonstrated elsewhere, Quinn is engaging enough, but he still lacks star presence, as does Wright, who is radiantly beautiful but never quite convincing as a woman of such intense sexual allure that she drives men,
literally, to drink and suicide. The real joys here are the supporting cast, particularly Finney, who has star presence to burn, and O'Shea, with whose theatrical troupe anyone would want to run away in a minute. They, along with Connaughton and Crabbe's sheer virtuosity as writers, make THE
PLAYBOYS more watchable than most of what passes for screen entertainment. (Adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1992
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Everybody has a story, which is the main problem with THE PLAYBOYS, an overstuffed if engaging drama set and shot in Ireland. The closest the film comes to a central character, Tara Maguire (Robin Wright) gives birth as the movie begins. She's unmarried,… (more)