Part rites-of-passage movie, part meditation on the ‘new’ Ireland forged from the War of Independence and subsequent Civil War, Broken Harvest is a beautifully lensed but dramatically static pic that falls short of its aspirations.
Story opens in present-day New York, where businessman Jimmy O’Leary (Pete O’Reilly) hears of the death of his mother, Catherine (Marian Quinn, sister of Aidan). The news cues a long flashback to growing up in rural West Cork during the ’50s, where old tensions still linger from the anti-Brit struggles of the ’20s and later divisions.
Young Jimmy (Darren McHugh) lives a carefree life of comic books, rock ‘n’ roll, escapades with pal Willie (Joe Jeffers), and growing attention from the pubescent Mary (Joy Florish). A deep-seated feud between Jimmy’s dad and Willie’s easygoing uncle, Josie (Niall O’Brien), leads to violence when Josie (rightly) accuses Jimmy of pilfering money from the church collection.
Director Maurice O’Callaghan’s script, from his own story The Shilling, obstinately fails to cohere into an engaging package. Blame that mostly on dialogue that’s over-spare and often awkward, and a directorial style that’s too first-gear and stiff.