Movie Review by Neil Ryan
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Julianna Margulies, Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea, Alan Bates
Director: Bruce Beresford
Now if you saw and enjoyed RABBIT-PROOF FENCE then this is a film for you. Like its Australian counterpart this is an inspiring based-on-real-life tale of three young mites separated from their only parent by a combination of heartless bureaucrats and warped ideology. Set in 1950’s Dublin EVELYN is unashamedly Oirish: earning its extra (warm-hearted) vowel by virtue of its cheerful indulgence of such Emerald Isle cliches as the hard drinking but good natured men who like nothing more than a cheerful tiddle-ay-dee singalong in the pub. As a piece of easy going undemanding entertainment this would sit happily in Sunday evening TV schedules alongside such fireside fare as BALLYKISSANGEL or HEARTBEAT.
The central character is Desmond Doyle (Pierce Brosnan), a father of three young children whose wife has run off with another man. Doyle finds work hard to come by and the forces of church and state conspire to remove his children from his care and place them in separate boys’ and girls’ orphanages. A devastated Doyle determines to get his children back and thus enlists the help of local barmaid Bernadette (Julianna Margulies), her solicitor brother (Stephen Rea), and his lawyer friends (Aidan Quinn and Sir Alan Bates). Between them they have to attempt something that has never been done before: challenge a law before the Irish Supreme Court.
The title of the film refers to the eldest of Doyle’s children. Evelyn is a precocious little sprite who resembles Little Orphan Annie in looks and spirit and the climax of the film finds the wee moppet in the full glare of the media, having to give evidence in the witness stand that will be crucial to the outcome of the case. The case of Desmond Doyle was a cause celebre in Ireland: widely reported and revolutionary in its time. Here it is transformed into a sugar-coated and jolly little film that will put a smile on ‘most everyone’s face, not least because of the sight of a dowdily dressed James Bond taking pratfalls, getting merry, and crooning traditional Irish folksongs.