The Nephew, the début of Dublin director Eugene Brady, will no doubt be subject to some derision by smartass audiences even if it didn’t have as its center a young American whose bloodlines are of an Irish/African mix. (So there’s a big caution: try to avoid seeing this movie in bits and pieces on the box; you’ll probably never go back to it if you come in when you hear rap getting an Irish twist.) It’s family grievances time again, and we all know how the Irish pet theirs. The wounds reopen when the American arrives to meet his dead mother’s brother and friends for the first time. Brady’s purposes are transparent, as are the devices, but Donal McCann gives so tight a performance that he nearly chokes the movie to death. Yet it all comes together, with no small thanks to two very attractive actors—Hill Harper as the black beauty and Aislin McGucklin as the lass he falls in love with. Some international reviewers suggest a Romeo & Juliet teaming; on a far less scale I keep thinking of Leonardo the sketcher and Kate his subject in Titanic. Without Shetland-sweatered Pierce Brosnan as producer and co-star, this pacific weeper wouldn’t have been made—it had a tough time getting financed—and while the 4-star reviews from Dublin were not unexpected, and the movie did reasonably well there, this isn’t the kind of entertainment Americans rush to. It’s rather like a Hallmark Hall of Fame holiday special. Brady has his light touches—nuns fishing, a priest reading while hearing confession, two small boys jointly squealing. He also has his fumbles—it would have been fitting for McCann to hand his sister’s ashes to the wronged Brosnan. In Cine Live from France, a critic said cinematographer Jack Conroy (My Left Foot) “manages to embellish and strengthen the harshness of Ireland in a photographic experience reminiscent of Ryans Daughter.” He doesn’t come anywhere near that measure of hyperbole and for that we’re most thankful. With Sinéad Cusak and a very amicable soundtrack, which includes “The Voice” by Einear Quinn, “Whisper a Prayer to the Moon” by Eleanor McEvoy, and “You’re the One” by Shane MacGowan & The Pipers.

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Text COPYRIGHT © 2001 RALPH BENNER  All Rights Reserved.