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Review: The Boys and Girl from County Clare

The film is chock-full of randy boozing and comic non sequitors more mystifying than amusing.

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The Boys and Girl from County Clare
Photo: First Look International

John Irvin’s The Boys and Girl from County Clare begins with grainy black-and-white footage of three kids toe-tapping along to their own Ceili music, and unless you read the film’s press notes in advance, you’d be hard-pressed to know that Irvin means to set up an age-old sibling rivalry. Some 30 years later, the Beatles are invading the world and groups of musicians are descending upon a small Irish town hosting an ostensibly reputable music competition. Among the rival Ceili competitors are estranged brothers Jimmy (Colm Meaney) and John Joe (Bernard Hill). The former left his hometown many years ago for Liverpool in pursuit of money and women, leaving the latter behind on their family’s land. It’s in County Clare where petty grudges resurface and melodramas manifest when their respective bands converge the day prior to the big competition. Caught in the crossfire are Jimmy’s star flutist, Teddy (Being Julia’s Shaun Evans), and John Joe’s star fiddler, Anne (Andrea Corr of the Irish band The Corrs), whose bourgeoning romance brings out all sorts of irrationality in Anne’s mother. Chock-full of randy boozing and comic non sequitors more mystifying than amusing, Boys and Girl from County Clare rightfully earns comparisons to Milos Forman’s early work in that it unravels as if it didn’t have a single care in the world. Which is not to say that that the film is unpleasant—though its second half is agreeably soapy, if you’re not a Ceili fan, you’re likely to doze off by the end of the first reel.

Cast: Bernard Hill, Colm Meaney, Patrick Bergin, Charlotte Bradley, Andrea Corr, Shaun Evans, Jim Nesbitt Director: John Irvin Screenwriter: Nicholas Adams Distributor: First Look International Running Time: 90 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2003 Buy: Video

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