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
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
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
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