- compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 Jan
Religious press critics are raving about the film, particularly because of its complimentary portrait of Christianity. Ted Baehr (
Mainstream critics find the film rather sentimental, but worthy of measured praise. Ebert says, "Beresford … may have chosen the straightforward classic style as a deliberate decision: It signals us that the movie will not be tarted up with modern touches, spring any illogical surprises, or ask for other than genuine emotions. Brosnan, at the center, is convincing as a man who sobers up and becomes, not a saint, but at least the dependable person he was meant to be. And Irish law is changed forever."from Film Forum, 01/02/03
Pierce Brosnan turns in a confident and sincere performance as Doyle, and young Sophie Vavasseur is charming as his willful daughter Evelyn, but their supporting cast is so comical and talented that they steal the show. Stephen Rea (
Steve Lansingh (The Film Forum) says, "The amount of enjoyment one gets from
I agree with Lansingh. (My review is posted at Looking Closer.) While Doyle's story is told with humor and energy, the film's other focus on his daughter Evelyn stumbles into sentimentality of the sort often found on TV's
Nevertheless, Phil Boatwright (Movie Reporter) comes away saying that Beresford "avoids an abuse of sentiment or melodrama with his subject matter.
Ken James (Christian Spotlight) calls it "an enjoyable and comfortably predictable true story … that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. … There are numerous references to prayer, Scripture passages, forgiveness, sobriety, and family. But
Peter T. Chattaway (Vancouver Courier) calls it "safe … predictable … a feel-good, crowd-pleasing, Capra-esque dramatization of a landmark Irish court case. To his credit, Beresford … knows that we know how this story will end, and he doesn't try to inflate his film with fake dramatic tension. Instead, he fills the movie with so much comic relief that it almost becomes a comedy." Chattaway also highlights the film's avoidance of villainizing the Catholic Church." However, he concludes, "The film has a saccharine quality that undermines whatever lessons it's trying to teach us about history and family."