Black Irish

2007

Drama

0
IMDb Rating 6.9 10 2595

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Plot summary


Uploaded by: FREEMAN
January 04, 2023 at 12:48 AM

Director

Top cast

Brendan Gleeson as Desmond McKay
Melissa Leo as Margaret McKay
Michael Angarano as Cole McKay
Emily VanCamp as Kathleen McKay
720p.WEB
880.23 MB
1280*720
English 2.0
R
24 fps
1 hr 35 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by larry-411 10 / 10

A new benchmark in the coming-of-age genre

I attended the World Premiere of "Black Irish" at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Initially, the blurb in the program guide suggested a fairly formulaic coming-of-age drama. But looks can be deceiving, and the synopsis just barely scratches the surface of what is, in reality, one of the most complex, rich, and heartwarming stories I've seen in quite some time. Remember those drawings in art class? The ones where the page is covered with black crayon and as you scrape off the outer layer you find multicolored wonders underneath? That's the most apt description that can be applied to "Black Irish." Because, as you'll discover, nothing is at it seems. And that is the singular achievement of Brad Gann, directing from his own script, with an ensemble cast that lends such passion to the material that I left the theater shaking my head in awe.

Webster's defines "hero" as, "one that shows great courage, an object of extreme admiration and devotion." It's hard to grow up without one, especially as a teenager in hardscrabble South Boston. Often the father possesses the traits a boy needs to survive those difficult years and prepare for the world he's about to enter. An older brother will usually suffice in cases where Dad is absent or unable or unwilling to fit the bill. Many coming-of-age stories place a teacher or clergyman in this position. But someone always appears, the boy grows up, he moves on, and they all live happily ever after. But what if all fail or don't show up to the table? "Black Irish" poses that question, and more. So much more.

Meet the McKays. Brendan Gleeson is Desmond, the father who doesn't quite qualify as hero due to years of heavy drinking and wallowing in self-pity, a legend in his own mind but not to his family. Tom Guiry is Terry, the older brother who's headed down a path of violence and self-destruction not unlike his father, giving up the hero role in the process. Sister Kathleen (Emily Van Camp), pregnant, wants little to do with the chaos around her. Amidst all this, Melissa Leo is Margaret, the mother who tries to hold it all together at the risk of losing her own somewhat sane self along the way. And our protagonist, 16 year-old Cole, is stunningly portrayed by Michael Angarano, as the boy who yearns for that moral compass that he needs to help guide the way into adulthood.

"Black Irish" takes us along on young Cole's search, and as we emotionally invest ourselves in his quest, we are at turns confused and occasionally amused, as is he, but mostly we hurt. To say that we feel his pain does not do justice to a story that is, at its heart, real life. And this is the true surprise of this film. These characters are far from one dimensional, the reality far from the clichéd impression even the paragraph above might suggest. There were audible gasps at the numerous twists and turns that Gann has infused into this shockingly brilliant script, no less than 12 years in the making and 30 rewrites along the way, as he indicated in the Q&A following the screening. And just when you think you know these people, just as you relax when the film seems to enter territory in which we feel comfortable, something happens. We discover that those we thought were cold and distant have a heart, a vulnerability and tenderness conveyed by Gleeson and Guiry that left me dumbfounded. Those we thought were soft and sweet, innocent and vulnerable, have a soft, fuzzy animal inside ready to turn vicious when backed into a corner, as Leo, VanCamp, and Angarano all exhibit along the way.

In the Q&A, Gann mentioned VanCamp's long-running portrayal of Amy on TV's "Everwood" as the inspiration for her being cast in this role. Fans will not be disappointed, and those unfamiliar with this actor's ability to bring nuance to what could otherwise be a stock performance will be wowed. Guiry lends the film some of the most heart wrenching surprises, as his ability to turn moods on a dime is unparalleled. Leo carves out new territory, again, in a role that could have been tired and worn in the hands of a lesser actor. She truly shines. And Gleeson does a star turn in a magnificent performance that, and I rarely use this term, is Oscar-worthy. Finally, Angarano is perfectly cast in the role of the quintessential underdog, in what I believe is the performance of his career. No young actor today has the ability to say so much with his eyes and facial expressions, and as the boy who becomes father to the man he sets a new standard for others who follow to live up to.

"Black Irish" carves a new benchmark in the coming-of-age genre. Because it is so much more than that. The audience cheered at the end of the screening here. It was a response I've not heard at any of the 70+ films I've seen at 7 festivals this year. It is deserving of your time, and will truly touch your heart as it did mine.

Reviewed by gradyharp 10 / 10

The Disintegration of a Family

BLACK IRISH is one of those little Independent films that manage to give more to the audience than the extreme constrictions of time and budget would suggest. Writer/director Brad Gunn (his first film) manages to tell a story about an Irish family from South Boston that is sincere, realistic, poignant, and profound, and though he worked with a small budget and a shooting schedule of 22 days, he has produced a fine little gem of a film.

The McKay family has problems: father Desmond (Brendan Glesson) lacks work and spends most of his time drinking beer and watching baseball on TV, having been a promising baseball player as a youngster but nipped by the Vietnam War into glum lethargy; mother Margaret (Melissa Leo) resents the shadow of the man she married and works as a social worker to support her family; daughter Kathleen (Emily VanKamp) is pregnant, unwed, and when denied the choice of abortion by her mother's strong Catholicism is determined to have the child by herself, giving it the loving home she feels she has been denied; son Terry (Tom Guiry) is a tortured delinquent who is a gang member and always in conflict with the law; and youngest son Cole (the excellent young 20-year-old Michael Angarano of 'One Last Thing', 'Man in the Chair', 'Snow Angels', 'Lords of Dogtown', 'Seabiscuit', etc) is conflicted by wanting to be a priest versus wanting to be a professional baseball player - he is the good kid and the last hope of his parents.

Terry tricks Cole into accompanying a house break-in and the trouble begins. The financial crisis at home drives Cole to get a job in a restaurant, and drives Desmond to menial work shining shoes. The family will support Kathleen's pregnancy, but that strips the income to the point that Cole must leave his Catholic school to be in public school, and while that seems to dash his hopes for a career in baseball, the coach at his public school (Finn Curtin) acknowledges Cole's talent and promises a future. Terry's lifestyle as a hoodlum presents increasing problems and at one point Cole gathers the courage to confront Terry during a robbery plot at Cole's work place and Terry is seriously wounded. We discover a hidden fact about Desmond that explains some of his sociopath behavior to his family and it is this discovery, coinciding with Terry's gunshot injury and Kathleen's tough life as an unwed working pregnant girl, that pulls the family unit back together.

If the plot sound like soap opera rest assured it is not. This is an intensely realistic examination of a fragile Irish Catholic family striving to makes sense of a world that is increasingly chaotic. All of the actors are excellent, but the extraordinary sensitivity and skill of young Michael Angarano make this a film to cherish. And Brad Gann is assuredly a talent to watch! Very highly recommended. Grady Harp

Reviewed by WCS02 8 / 10

the south side of good living

Problems are hurled at the McKay family as if they were in a batting cage with an endless supply of quarters and no bat. This South Boston Irish-Catholic family deals with the rock bottom side of life they best way they know how. Baseball quietly emerges as a rallying dynamic for the seemingly-defeated male McKays in this coming of age story. It has a lot of heart, and there's a lot to like here. My criticism is that there's too much misfortune for one 95 minute story - as if every stereotype in play today had to be included. It moved me nevertheless. I recommend it. It seems to have gone directly to DVD but should have enjoyed a stint in the theater first.

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