Agnes though copes well, she does not seem bothered by the loss of her husband, she and her best friend Marion (Marion O'Dwyer) cope with life's ups and downs, out drinking on a Friday night, and they have a day at the seaside but then Marion too is taken from her by cancer .... but there is that French baker who has eyes for Agnes and you just know it will all end ok for her, as her kids run riot at the swanky Gresham Hotel and one of them falls foul of the loan shark, but they club together to buy her that blue dress for her first date with the French guy - and then Tom Jones pops up as himself (this in 1999) and saves the day too as we end with Agnes and her brood watching him as his 1967 self in concert [its Cliff Richard in the book!].
Angelica (marvellous is so many things from THE GRIFTERS to her father's THE DEAD - another great Irisih film) directs all this with a sure touch - she of course spent a lot of time in Ireland growing up partly at her father's pile in Galway - but she is perhaps a tad too glamorous for a harrassed mother of seven? Author Brendan O'Carroll (who plays Mrs Browne in his successful tv series) pops up too in various moments as the local drunk. So really I suppose it is great fun really but don't expect realism.
The cast again go at it full tilt: Brenda Fricker (again) as the almost silent wife, John Hurt as the village idiot type (think John Mills in RYAN'S DAUGHTER), Sean Bean, Frances Tomelty as the widow who wants to sell the field, which McCabe has nourished for years - and Tom Berenger as the visiting Yank who wants to buy it - leading to if not Greek Tragedy then Irish Tragedy all round ....again the blurb says: "Bull" McCabe's family has farmed a field for generations, sacrificing endlessly for the sake of the land. And when the widow who owns the field decides to sell the field in a public auction, McCabe knows that he must own it. But while no one in the village would dare bid against him, an American with deep pockets decides that he needs the field to build a highway. The Bull and his son decide to convince the American to give up bidding on the field, but things go horribly wrong". This is a look at a more vicious reality of the rural Ireland behind the whimsy of THE QUIET MAN.
Here's an odd one, THE LAST SEPTEMBER, a 1999 film which I had never heard of, it can't have played in London and one can see why - directed by stage director Deborah Warner, hence a fatal lack of pace: talk of languid, langorous tedium set in a long summer in 1920 in County Cork on one of those Anglo-Irish estates which seems to have seen better days. Presided over by Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith with their niece Lois (Keeley Hawes) and visiting guests including Fiona Shaw and Jane Birkin - an odd choice here.
During those long scenes when nothing seems to be happening one remembers how more animated Smith and Gambon were in GOSFORD PARK and that Smith and Birkin were both much more fun in EVIL UNDER THE SUN ... Pre-DR WHO David Tennant is the army officer in love with Lois who is drawn to and sheltering a rebel hiding in the old mill who has killed a black-and-tan made to kneel naked before him - and now Tennant too is exploring the old mill as another shot rings out ... Its all from an Elizabeth Bowen novel, rather like a William Trevor story, and the politics of the time will be difficult to comprehend for those unfamiliar with history - no laughs here though.