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Waking Ned Devine

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Waking Ned Devine

Starring: Ian Bannen, David Kelly
Director: Kirk Jones
Rated: PG
RunTime: 91 Minutes
Release Date: November 1998
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Fionnula Flanagan, Susan Lynch, James Nesbitt

Review by Walter Frith
3 stars out of 4

The town of Tullymore, Ireland, population 52, yes, fifty two, has among it, a winner in the latest lottery draw and everyone in the town is trying to figure out who it is. They spoil each other with kindness, kissing up to the supposed winner but they are all wrong. The winner of a 6.8 million pound lottery is Ned Devine. He fails to show up one night for a party and his friend Jackie O'Shea (Ian Bannen) goes to see him. He finds Ned deceased with a pleasant look on his face and a lottery ticket in his hand. It turns out to be the winner and Ned apparently keeled over from a heart attack at the mind numbing thought of taking in a fortune.

Jackie and his friend Michael O'Sullivan (David Kelly), plot to have one of them impersonate Ned for a lottery official who will visit and investigate the claim. Using Ned's birth certificate, social insurance number and other forms of identification claimed for himself, Michael ends up impersonating Ned and all hopes are that he can get away with it. The town is eventually sucked into the fraudulent claim and they will all share in the winnings equally. A lone hold out is a cranky, miserable old lady, faking disability who wants a giant share or she will turn the folks in and collect ten percent of the lottery jackpot which is the rule if you snitch on those defrauding the system.

'Waking Ned Devine' has a major flaw that I think discredits wrtier/director Kirk Jones to a certain degree. In today's age of electronic media (and the old fashioned kind as well), you simply cannot commit lottery fraud of a large nature because you will be caught. A huge jackpot, and the persons who claim it, like the ones in this film, are almost certain to be investigated by the media, and they will even find their way into a small Irish town like the one depicted in this film. If you are willing to overlook this rather large flaws, like I am, the film is a joyride of old fashioned movie making resurrected for today.

Made with a tempo that resembles good natured poetry, 'Waking Ned Devine' is a grand scheme of investigating everyone's desire to be rich, no matter who they are. Certainly an original concept in many regards, there is even a sub plot involving two men's love for the same woman and one of them being the father of her little boy. Despite the flaws mentioned earlier, Kirk Jones has created a sweet story and executed it in a directorial fashion that reaches into the heart of its very subject and it runs just a little more that 90 minutes and doesn't weigh the audience down and the best part is that from start to finish, it's unpredictable and aims to please.

Copyright 2000 Walter Frith

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