Good Movies Based in Ireland

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 6:51 am

Films in an Irish Setting

Nicknamed “The Emerald Isle,” Ireland has long been an intriguing setting for feature films. First of all, there’s the lush scenery displayed in such classics as The Quiet Man. And, of course, there’s also the famous and lengthy struggle for independence against Britain. The latter has been the subject of numerous motion pictures, although this list of good movies based in Ireland also includes offbeat romances and musicals.

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The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) – Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney star as two brothers who join the IRA and fight for independence from the UK. Winner of the 2006 Palm d’Or at Cannes, the film proved a major success for director Ken Loach, becoming the highest-grossing Irish indie film of all time.

My Left Foot (1989) – Daniel Day-Lewis gained international attention, and a Best Actor Oscar, for his portrayal of Irish poet and painter Christy Brown, a man stricken with cerebral palsy to the point of only being able to control his left foot. Brenda Fricker also captured Oscar gold for her portrayal of Christy’s strong-willed mother. If you think your life is rough, reserve judgment until you see this movie.

A Man of No Importance (1994) – Albert Finney shines in this comedy-drama about a closeted gay bus driver in 1960’s Dublin. Co-starring Brenda Fricker, Michael Gambon, Rufus Sewell, and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (in his film debut).

The Quiet Man (1952) – John Wayne and John Ford teamed up for the 15th time with this tale of a retired American boxer (Wayne) who relocates to his family’s ancestral home in Ireland. The romance with fiery Maureen O’Hara is hardly politically correct by modern standards, but action fans will love the lengthy fistfight between Wayne and Victor McLaglen. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, it won for Best Director and Best Cinematography.

Breakfast on Pluto (2005) – Set in 1970’s Ireland and London, this Neil Jordan film stars Cillian Murphy as a transgender orphan looking for her mother while trying to find love. Jordan specializes in romantic, slice-of-life films that are way outside the norm, and this gender-bending motion picture is no exception. Co-starring Liam Neeson, Stephen Rea, Brendan Gleeson, and Liam Cunningham.

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Ondine (2009) – Neil Jordan helms this unconventional romance about Syracuse, an alcoholic fisherman (Colin Farrell) who hauls up a beautiful and mysterious woman (Alicja Bachleda) in his net. Stephen Rea co-stars as the local priest, and Alison Barry is wonderful as Syracuse’s precocious daughter.

The Boxer (1997) – Daniel Day-Lewis puts his method acting talents to work as Danny Flynn, a former boxer who arrives in Belfast after serving 14 years in prison. But violence is still rampant in Northern Ireland, and soon Danny is drawn into trouble while romancing the wife (Emily Watson) of an imprisoned IRA soldier.

The Actors (2003) – Michael Caine and Dylan Moran share top billing in this Dublin-based comedy about a pair of so-so actors who endeavor to con a gangster out of a large sum of money. Co-starring Lena Headey, Miranda Richardson, and Michael Gambon.

The MatchMaker (1997) – On a quest to track down a politician’s Irish roots, a young woman (Janeane Garofalo) who’s unlucky in love arrives in a small village just in time for their annual matchmaking festival. See if you can guess what happens next. Co-starring Denis Leary, David O’Hara, and Milo O’Shea.

The Commitments (1991) – Put out with the Irish music scene, a manager decides to form a soul group comprised of lots of red-haired white people. The results are surprisingly good, and there’s lots of good music in-between all the backstage drama. Based on the novel by Roddy Doyle.

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So the next time you polish off some corned beef and cabbage, wash it down with one of these good movies based in Ireland. Sadly, none of my selections feature leprechauns, although I imagine actual residents of Ireland will breathe a sigh of relief at the creature’s exclusion.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 6:51 am and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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