Some Mother's Son
Here's the lesson of this film: If you want to be a martyr, makesure your momma isn't allowed to screw it up. Imagine if Mary had managed to pull those crazy Romans off her boy and put a stop to that crucifixion business -- then where would we be? Of course, where the Irish Republican Army is concerned, martyrs are like Pop Tarts -- if you can't find any at home, you can always borrow one from the neighbors or pick a few up at the corner store.
This is the realization Kathleen Quigley (Helen Mirren) comes to after her son, Gerard (Aidan Gillen), is arrested for being an IRA terrorist. Since the jailed IRA boys all insist they are not criminals but prisoners of war, they demand special perks like Nintendo sets and toaster ovens. When they don't get them they go on a hunger strike and start dying.
What possible angle on the tried-and-true "the English are mean" theme did the filmmakers feel had been left unexplored? After "In the Name of the Father," "Braveheart," "Michael Collins," this film and God knows how many others, we get it already: The English are imperialist wankers.
Given that, why is it necessary to sugar-coat things? Gerard is caught blowing up a truck. Big deal. He probably blew up a few English schoolchildren too. Why not show that crime and make our sympathy for him a little less facile? Also, the English guy ordering everyone around looks like the biggest weasel on the face of the earth. When the villain looks like a weasel, it's easy to hope that somebody plants a nuclear device in his shorts -- and disappointing that the filmmakers are unable to explore more complex means of character development.
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