The gold standard for films about families grappling with loved ones who are mentally or physically handicapped, The Keys to the House is a tough act to follow. Gianni Amelio’s film is a gesture of good faith, but Damien O’Donnell’s Rory O’Shea Was Here (a.k.a. Inside I’m Dancing) is a different beast entirely. Throughout this story of two young men with horrible disabilities who conspire to live life on their own terms, O’Donnell repeatedly confuses audience-pandering for sincerity—it’s as if the makers of The Full Monty had conspired to remake My Left Foot, except the brains behind Veronica Guerin and Ella Enchanted are the ones responsible, which makes sense when you consider the film’s unusual mix of Leigh-for-Dummies social realism and fairy-tale wish-fulfillment. (Imagine the possibilities had the Farellys taken a crack at the script.) When Rory O’Shea (James McAvoy) arrives at the Carrigmore Home for the Disabled, the young man with Duchenne muscular dystrophy rocks the joint with his loud music and your typical angry-young-man-syndrome. (What do you expect from someone who wears his punksterdom—a flag of Cuba draped over his bed and a picture of Che hanging on his wall—like a placard?) After befriending the incomprehensible Michael Connolly, a young man with cerebral palsy who was abandoned as a baby by his famous lawyer-father, the pair strikes out on their own, enlisting the help of a cute blonde, Siobhán (Romola Garai), to help them with their daily needs. What ensues, in essence, is a series of episodes from a short-lived Irish dramedy. You know the deal: In this episode, Rory forces Michael to confront the father that abandoned him; next week, Michael must deal with his feelings for Siobhán after he gets an erection while she’s washing him down. Of course, as screechy and unrealistically delusional as all of this may sound, O’Donnell plays just about everything for laughs, managing a brutal moment or two amid the non-stop spectacle of comic uplift, namely a sequence in which the selfish Rory takes advantage of Michael’s father’s own selfishness and works it to their advantage in securing a flat. The film is a far cry from Keys to the House, but it still conveys a level of human interaction more honest than anything you’ll find in The Sea Inside.
- Focus Features
- 104 min
- Damien O'Donnell
- Jeffrey Caine
- Steven Robertson, Alan King, Brenda Fricker, Ruth McCabe, James McAvoy, Anna Healy, Tom Hickey
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