×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Evelyn

An unexpectedly raffish air and an atmospheric production are the hallmarks of "Evelyn," the true-life saga of an Irish father who bucked the system in 1953 to regain legal custody of his children in a groundbreaking court case.

With:
Desmond Doyle - Pierce Brosnan Nick Barron - Aidan Quinn Bernadette Beattie - Julianna Margulies Michael Beattie - Stephen Rea Evelyn Doyle - Sophie Vavasseur Tom Connolly - Alan Bates

An unexpectedly raffish air and an atmospheric production are the hallmarks of “Evelyn,” the true-life saga of an Irish father who bucked the system in 1953 to regain legal custody of his children in a groundbreaking court case. Co-produced by star Pierce Brosnan for his Irish DreamTime banner (the shingle’s third outing, after “The Nephew” and “The Thomas Crown Affair”), pic’s feel-good approach to the schematic David-and-Goliath story renders it a decent mainstream title for UA, with good if unspectacular ancillary to follow.

Brosnan plays Desmond Doyle, a hard-working but perpetually poor painter and decorator who moonlights singing in pubs with his dad and lives with his family in Dublin’s Fatima Mansions housing estate. When his wife walks out on him and his three kids for another man, church and state gang up to remove his kids, split them up and send them to different orphanages.

As little Evelyn Doyle (Sophie Vavasseur) learns to adjust to life surrounded by nuns both good and bad, Desmond first tries desperately to steal his kids back, then vows to assemble a legal dream team to take on the Irish courts. He meets skeptical lawyer Michael Beattie (Stephen Rea) through the jurist’s barmaid sister Bernadette (Julianna Margulies).

Beattie is shocked to see American colleague Nick Barron (Aidan Quinn) take an interest in the case (a divorce separated him from his own children) — and a fancy to Bernadette, who’s also pitching woo with Des. But it isn’t until the attorneys successfully lure footballer-turned-superstar-barrister Thomas Connolly (Alan Bates) out of retirement to shake up the system that they appear to have any kind of chance to revise the existing law.

A sprightly pace and a fatalistic sense of humor propel the proceedings over a generous amount of drinking jokes and other cliches of Irish life and culture. Though a legal win looks extremely unlikely up until the final reel, emotional pitch of pic leaves little doubt that Doyle and his cause will triumph, and he even gets an “I’m a better person” speech to the packed courtroom that defiantly drips of Capra-corn.

Reuniting after African-set, 1991 “Mr. Johnson,” vet director Bruce Beresford and Brosnan are completely in synch with the material. The star plays Doyle as just rough enough around the edges to warrant the character’s setbacks, but not so unpleasant that the twinkle in his eye is extinguished or his ability to love and care for his kids would come into question.

All other perfs are in the underdog spirit of the proceedings, with Quinn particularly relaxed and appealing as the Yank ambulance chaser and Bates having a grand old time as the eccentric elder jurist. Only John Lynch as opposing counsel in the climactic courtroom battle seems underserved by the otherwise obvious script.

Lead by Andre Fleuren’s warm, widescreen lensing, tech package is fine, with most principle craftspeople returning from previous Beresford productions. The Irish brogues are a bit much at first, but flatten out as pic proceeds.

Evelyn

Ireland-U.K.

Production: A United Artists release (in U.S.), in association with First Look Media and Cinerenta, of an Irish DreamTime production. (International sales: Overseas Film Group, Santa Monica.) Produced by Pierce Brosnan, Beau St. Clair, Michael Ohoven. Executive producers, Eberhard Kayser, Mario Ohoven, Kieran Corrigan, Simon Bosanquet. Co-producer, Paul Pender. Directed by Bruce Beresford. Screenplay, Paul Pender.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Andre Fleuren; editor, Humphrey Dixon; music, Stephen Endelman; production designer, John Stoddart; art director, Ian Bailie; costume designer, Joan Bergin; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS Digital), Brendan Deasy. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations), Sept. 11, 2002. Running time: 93 MIN.

With: Desmond Doyle - Pierce Brosnan Nick Barron - Aidan Quinn Bernadette Beattie - Julianna Margulies Michael Beattie - Stephen Rea Evelyn Doyle - Sophie Vavasseur Tom Connolly - Alan Bates

More Film

  • Aquaman 2018

    'Aquaman' Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

    Reviews of DC’s “Aquaman” vary between feelings of surprise and disappointment. Some critics are applauding director James Wan’s strong re-imagining of a previously stale character, while others are harping on DC’s inability to stack up against rival Marvel — but most are just relieved the film isn’t an all-out flop. There are virtually no qualms about [...]

  • Black Panther

    'Black Panther' Named Top Movie of 2018 by African American Film Critics Assn.

    Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” has won three awards from members of the African American Film Critics Association, taking the trophies for best film, director, and song for “All the Stars.” The AAFCA made the announcement Tuesday and will present the awards in ceremonies on Feb. 6 at the Taglyan Complex in Los Angeles. “Selecting Disney’s [...]

  • IFFAM: Shekhar Kapur Plans Raft of

    IFFAM: Shekhar Kapur Plans New 'Elisabeth' Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    Shekhar Kapur, best known outside India for “Elizabeth,” his 1998 biopic about the 16th Century British queen, is readying a new “Elisabeth” film. Based on a musical about one of the most famous members of the Austrian royal family, the film is to be shot in German. Together with Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay, Kapur [...]

  • Vasan Bala Sets ‘Till The Last

    Vasan Bala Takes ‘Last Breath’ Back to Ronnie Screwvala's RSVP (EXCLUSIVE)

    Vasan Bala, director of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao’s Indian competition title “The Man Who Feels No Pain” (aka “Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota”), will next direct “Till The Last Breath” (“Marte Dum Tak”). As with “No Pain,” former Disney India managing director Ronnie Screwvala will produce through his RSVP production outfit. “No [...]

  • IFFAM: Nicolas Cage Talks Asian Cinema,

    IFFAM: Nicolas Cage Talks Asian Cinema, Chinese Money

    Nicolas Cage, the Oscar-winning actor and International Film Festival & Awards Macao talent ambassador, reckons he is no stranger to the Asian brand of cinema. He has worked with the likes of John Woo (“Face/Off”,) the Pang Brothers (“Bangkok Dangerous” remake) and Sion Sono on upcoming English-language film “Prisoners of the Ghostland.” Addressing a press [...]

  • Best Films of 2018 Variety

    The Best Films of 2018

    Variety chief film critics — and cinema omnivores — Owen Gleiberman and Peter Debruge spend the year devouring everything from superhero movies to subtitled festival gems, which leaves a wealth of exceptional films to savor at year’s end. While “A Star Is Born” scored high with both critics, and “Eighth Grade” and “The Rider” each [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content