Nineteen year old Danny Flynn is imprisoned for his involvement with the IRA in Belfast. He leaves behind his family and his fourteen year old girlfriend, Maggie Hamill. Fourteen years later, Danny is released from prison and returns to his old working class neighborhood to resume his life as a boxer, fighting and opening a boxing club training aspiring young boxers. Maggie has since married Danny’s best friend, who is also imprisoned for his IRA activities. Although he has not denounced the IRA or denigrated his IRA colleagues, Danny has decided to live a life free of political violence. His boxing club is non-sectarian, open to both Catholics and Protestants. This move irks some of his old IRA colleagues since they feel working with the Protestants will not resolve their David versus Goliath struggle. Danny’s old IRA colleagues, especially their unofficial leader Harry, resort to traditional tactics of violence to stop Danny. Maggie’s father, Joe, also an IRA activist, does not condone the violence against Danny as he is working through peaceful means to free IRA prisoners (including Maggie’s husband), but also does not want Maggie to resume her past relationship with Danny, a man who he sees as having no future. Amidst this turmoil, Danny and Maggie dream of a life together, also taking into account Maggie’s wedded status and the feelings of her teen-aged son, Liam.
Jim Sheridan is a master story teller, and an acclaimed film director of few films, but good films nevertheless.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1949, Sheridan moved to America in 1982, meeting a man who invited him to run the Irish Arts Center. He found a place to live in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, and was low on finances at first. He eventually made his first film, _My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989) _ starring Daniel Day-Lewis, about the Irish artist Christy Brown, who only had control of his left foot.
The film was a surprise success, with both Day-Lewis and co-star Brenda Fricker winning Oscars for their performances. Sheridan received two Oscar nominations for Best Director (he lost to Oliver Stone) and Best Screenplay. It was an amazing debut film, and at age 40, Sheridan was a late bloomer to the film industry. He followed up “My Left Foot” with the film The Field (1990). Starring Richard Harris a then-unknown Sean Bean and John Hurt, this film was… read more
Despite the (mostly) aggressive and negative portrait the IRA, with no real emphasis on the atrocious behaviour of the loyalists, this film is a hauntingly beautiful tale of longing and redemption. Day-Lewis and Watson are electric - the former delivers a scene-stealing performance as the lovelorn Maggie. The gritty, war-torn atmosphere is achieved nicely, and the cinematography is cold and bleak. Simply masterful.
In my book, this is the single most accurate physical embodiment of a boxer ever captured on film. Even though the script does not wrap me up emotionally, every movement of Lewis' Danny Flynn feels straight out of a run down gym. I don't sing rapturous praise of the storytelling, but goddamn does Day Lewis have some scenes.