Similar in theme to the 1961 Bryan Forbes film “Whistle Down the Wind,” “All Things Bright and Beautiful” is a gentle, modestly affecting, dramatic comedy set in a small Irish village in 1954, about a 10-year-old boy who claims to have witnessed a miracle. This may be just too slight for much theatrical exposure, but TV and vid sales are definitely indicated.
Pic’s chief assets are the convincing setting of a tiny backwater in conservative times, and the lead performance of Ciaran Fitzgerald as the bright young Barry.
A choirboy at the local church, Barry has fallen under the influence of the priest, Father McAteer (Tom Wilkinson). When Barry stumbles across a fugitive IRA man in a barn, he takes him to be Barabbas, the criminal from the Christ story. The gullible McAteer drags the boy to the church, where the lad claims to hear the Virgin speak to him.
Convinced that a 10-year-old wouldn’t know the words Barry uses, McAteer is determined that a miracle has occurred. Writer/director Barry Devlin might have made more out of this material but is content to keep his story simple. This diminishes the potential drama, but even so, “All Things” is a pleasurable, if very modest, film.
The children are natural and unaffected, production design and costumes are fine, and the use of period songs for children on the soundtrack (Danny Kaye sings “The Ugly Duckling”) is charming. Other production values are adequate.