Bruce Beresford (Breaker Morant, Driving Miss Daisy) brings his talent for sturdy, unadventurous drama to this British feature about Desmond Doyle, an Irish tradesman who lost custody of his children in the mid-50s and fought a prolonged legal battle to reclaim them from the state's industrial schools. The film was a pet project for Pierce Brosnan, and he gives a credible performance as Doyle, a handsome ne'er-do-well who can't seem to hold on to a job or turn down a pint. Equally strong are Stephen Rea as Doyle's crisp solicitor, Aidan Quinn as his Yankee barrister, Julianna Margulies as the comely barmaid who tries to straighten Doyle out, and Alan Bates as the alcoholic attorney whose knowledge of Irish family law helps surmount what Rea describes as the “cozy conspiracy between the Catholic church and the Irish state.” Unfortunately their energies can't rescue Paul Pender's soggy and predictable screenplay, which ends in tears and shafts of sunlight. 94 min.
By J.R. Jones