Happy St Patrick’s Day to everyone who hails from the Emerald Isle!
Though in passing years this holiday has become one of those celebrations where people guzzle on Guinness in clothes dyed green and try to speak in the worst Irish accents imaginable (but we all know that award goes to Gerard Butler in P.S. I Love You. He doesn’t even seem to try!) But it is also a day to celebrate everything Irish.
And what better way than to talk about the greatest artistic minds who have brought us some classic films of our time?
Here are some great Irish films from great Irish directors.
Tom Moore – Song of the Sea (2014)
You may have been lurking around award seasons and festivals with this wonderful animation bounding around the lips of critics and audiences. Not seen by enough people, Song of the Sea is a film that would have won the Oscar (it was nominated) had we not seen Disney or Ghibli in our midsts. That being said, Tom Moore’s gorgeous film should be seen by many.
Told in traditional imagery, the movie enthuses the blissfully sublime animation and tells the story of Ben and Saoirse who use a magically shell to communicate with creatures of the ocean. It is gorgeous, compelling and altogether, breath-taking.
Martin McDonagh – In Bruges (2008)
There is comedy. And then there are shit-hot comedies that produce award winning hilarity repeatedly and still boasts a visceral story as well. Martin McDonagh, a dual heritage Irish director (alongside English, because we all can share), has certainly made an impact with the impeccable dark comedy film In Bruges. Having Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell romp over Brussels whilst a murderous cockney gangster in the form of Ralph Fiennes pursues them. It’s a winning combination of the actors and writing that makes In Bruges an excellent, feverish film that captivates and sends you on this almost mad-happed journey. It’s just fantastic and therefore, everyone should watch it.
Lenny Abrahamson – Frank (2014)
In my opinion, films that split audiences down the middle are certainly incredible. Mainly because they bring up such heated debates. Frank is one of those independents that, similar to Filth, found a niche audience who loved it despite its detractors. What works with Frank is Michael Fassbender’s Paper-Mached lead singer, the titular Frank, and his utterly passionate and somewhat naïve stand on his music. Compared to Domhnall Gleeson’s more fame and glory stance, the pair make an enticing double act that, through this oddly spirited movie that has this poignant finale that is sure to hit you in the stomach with emotion.
Jim Sheridan – My Left Foot (1989)
One of the first films that Daniel Day-Lewis worked on and catapulted him to the Oscar glory we know him for, My Left Foot. Directed by the astonishing Jim Sheridan, My Left Foot revolves around the true story of writer Christy Brown who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He would develop his craft despite the illness (despite doesn’t feel like the right word,) and would go on to write and paint using his working appendage, the titular left foot. Endearing, this film has a solid performance at the centre of it with a greatly rich story that is enhanced by Sheridan’s direction.
John Michael McDonagh – Calvary (2014)
Last year’s Best Film that was sorely missing from award season was John Michael McDonagh’s phenomenal Calvary. Leading a stellar cast is Brendan Gleeson (who, for what it’s worth, won Best Actor at the BIFA’s this year,) as a priest with a death sentence when someone declares they are going to kill him. This is less a “whodunit” but more of the Father’s understanding of his town and trying to extrapolate his own guilty as well as soothe the pain of people around him. The stunning and shocking conclusion on the beach is greatly done too. Calvary is essentially a drama but with this dry humour surrounding it and evocative plot. It is a well-crafted testament to McDonagh’s talents
John Carney – Sing Street (2016)
The story of plucky teenagers form a band to fight their oppressive school and struggling guardians around them is an absolute joy. The energetic happiness that beams throughout you as you skip merrily from the screening is unparalleled in this year’s collection of gritty superheroes, damned dramas, and the misery in between.
Certainly, that spirituous effervescence that waves excitable and determined emotion through you way past the credit roll is unique to Carney’s cinematic portfolio. Not without the ebbs of devastation flowing underneath this inspirational ditty, Sing Street is power song, a fist pump, and a charge for something greater than the one life has given you. Its hope and courage; rolling with catchy tunes and a beating heart that makes the world a little bit bright.
Especially with song Drive It Like You Stole It.
Nora Twomney – The Breadwinnner (2017)
The Breadwinner is a stirring and impeccable piece that stitches threads of impossible beauty and inescapable hardship. It sees a young girl disguise herself as a boy in order to provide for her family. Parvana’s life is ruled with rigid authority, pain and threat of death. Her courage to step out of her home and face it all makes her a truly great heroine of this story whilst her ability to continue her innocence, telling fairy tales and playing games when the watchful eye is no longer there, fleshing her out as child still dreaming whilst nightmares plague her land.
This is a story of struggle and survival but also family and friendship. Twomley sensitively weaves Ellis’ tale on the big screen, showing that whilst there is this anguish brewing, hope is still alive. The film shows that the people are silently taking back control, defying the rule, and helping one another is the true fire that’ll endure.
Happy St Patrick’s Day!