Evelyn

Inferior rival to Peter Mullan's The Magdalene Sisters

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OPENS MARCH 28, CERT PG, 94 MINS

A whimsical, mawkish piece of blarney, Evelyn boasts one or two lively performances (notably from Alan Bates as a rugby-loving dipsomaniac lawyer) and a suitably cornball ending, but suffers hugely by comparison with Peter Mullan’s similarly themed, tougher and more honest The Magdalene Sisters. Like Mullan’ s film, it’s inspired by a true story.

Pierce Brosnan plays Desmond Doyle, a feckless, hard-drinking but good-hearted joiner in ’50s Dublin whose wife has just left him. The moment she leaves, the social services come snooping around and put his kids in care. Evelyn (Sophie Vavasseur), his cherubic daughter, is left at the prey of stereotypically vicious nuns while his two sons are thrown into orphanages. Des takes on the Irish legal system to get them back home.

Rather than expose the snobbery and cruelty of the establishment in any meaningful way, Aussie director Bruce Beresford shamelessly sugars his tale, indulging in woeful flights of sentimentality. When Sean Connery took breaks from James Bond, he’d test himself by playing radical trade union leaders (The Molly Maguires) or mutinous soldiers (The Hill). It doesn’t say much for Brosnan’s taste or courage that, on his sabbaticals, he appears in fare as feeble and soft-centred as this.

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