| Evelyn (2002) |
Pierce Brosnan stars as a drinker and a charmer called Desmond Doyle, who makes a meager living in 1950's Dublin doing a bit of painting and decorating and a bit of singing. But his world is shattered when one day his wife runs off with another man, leaving him alone to look after his three children.
Although it's hard and he makes mistakes, most glaringly his drinking, it is clear that Desmond loves his children and is doing his best for them. However, the authorities show up one day to cart the kids off to a couple of orphanages. The reasons given are that Desmond is a single father and he doesn't earn as much money as they think he should.
Desmond naively trusts the authorities, believing that they are working for the best interests of the children. He is shocked to discover that even when he is able to improve his circumstances he is still not allowed to get his children back. He must then fight an unjust and inhuman law.
This movie is remarkable for two reasons:
A father is portrayed as being a better parent than a mother. In virtually all movies involving fathers parenting their children alone, the mother is conveniently dead. This avoids the controversial concept of the unfit mother or the incendiary idea that a dad might be more fit than a mother. Check out the article Dads in Movies Not Treated as Equals to Moms.
Also, the film deals with an issue of great relevance to many fathers today - unjust laws that separate fathers from their children when parents split up. Family courts seem to believe that a father's role regarding his children is entirely financial. In most western countries, divorced children do not have the right to visit their fathers. Any contact between fathers and children is up to the whim of the custodial parent (the mother). Twenty-two members of a British group called Fathers4Justice are currently in prison for unlawful publicity stunts intended to draw attention to this issue.
Brosnan is a surprisingly good Desmond Doyle, which is a far cry from the 007 character he is associated with. Brosnan has pushed for years to make this movie a reality and funded it from his own company. Coming from a broken home in Ireland, Brosnan, from the age of six to eleven, was educated in a Catholic boys' school run by strict disciplinarians the Christian Brothers.
Ten year old Sophie Vavasseur does a brilliant job of playing the feisty little Evelyn. Both characters and the film in general win the approval of the real Evelyn, who now lives in Scotland.
Evelyn is an emotional and uplifting story that is as relevant today as it was fifty years ago. It gets extra marks for originality and for bucking the unwritten laws of movie making. But just for entertainment value alone I highly recommend this beautiful story of a father's love for his children and their love for him, set in 1950's Ireland.
- Reviewed by: Paul G.