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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Evelyn

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Aidan Quinn
Director: Bruce Beresford
Rated: PG
RunTime: 94 Minutes
Release Date: December 2002
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Julianna Margulies, Stephen Rea, Sophie Vavasseur, John Lynch, Alan Bates, Frank Kelly

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

EVELYN, by Bruce Beresford (DRIVING MISS DAISY), is an unabashedly schmaltzy and thoroughly enjoyable true story about a legal case that made Irish legal history in the early 1950s. Playing masterfully against his usual suave type as an English aristocrat, Pierce Brosnan (DIE ANOTHER DAY) returns to his real Irish working-class roots as Desmond Doyle, a poor father who tries to get his kids back from an insensitive legal system. Doyle's was the first case to ever successfully challenge an Irish law on the basis of the Irish constitution -- or, as they say there, to get a law declared "repugnant" to their constitution.

When we meet Desmond, he still has a wife at home. But in short order, his wife's "fancy man" takes her away with him to an unknown location in Australia. This causes the liberal do-gooders who run the children's welfare department to take the kids away from their father and place them in two different orphanages until they reach legal age. In order to get them released from their incarceration, both parents must give their consent.

Barmaid Bernadette Beattie (Julianna Margulies) suggests that her brother Michael Beattie (Stephen Rea), a solicitor, take Desmond's case since it would be impossible to ever find the kids' mother and get her consent. Nick Barron (Aidan Quinn) is the barrister and Thomas Connolly (Alan Bates) is the legal consultant who form the rest of Desmond's legal team. Since Desmond, a drunk like most of the men in the story, makes little money as a house painter, he takes on a night job singing in the pub. Think he will give up the drink in order to impress the judges? Of course, but not as soon as you'd think. A little charmer named Sophie Vavasseur plays Evelyn, Desmond's only daughter. One look in her sweet eyes and you'll wonder why he didn't get his act together sooner.

The big trial conclusion is the movie at its best as screenwriter Paul Pender gets more mileage than you'd ever believe from the single word "however." I think I will forever remember this movie when I heard that word. If you like stories of the downtrodden fighting the system and winning, then EVELYN is just the Christmas movie for you. And with its PG rating, you can bring the whole family.

EVELYN runs 1:34. It is rated PG for "thematic material and language" and would be acceptable for any kid old enough to be interested in serious subjects.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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