Back in 1979 a much younger Martin Sheehan, played a young army captain in a place where he did not belong , on a mission he did not particularly want to achieve. Years later he is again somewhere he did not want to be in Stella Days. In short this is not the fastest movie in the world, but it is not supposed to be. It is a very Irish film dealing with very Irish issues of the time. Knowing what we do now of the times then there is always a potentially dark side to this movie. but thanks to O’Sullivan this never happens Despite the 1950’s Irishness of this movie the subject matter travels, the story is one which can be translated across times and locations. Sheehan plays an educated, cultured academic priest who after being passed over for an appointment in Rome and subsequently letting his feelings be known is placed in a rural Irish Parish after years in Rome and the US. After spending three years in Tipperary he is hoping his exile is over and he can return to Rome, his dreams are dashed when the local Bishop (Tom Hickey, The Riordans 1965, Breakfast on Pluto 2005) tells him he is staying in the town and is charged with building a new church.
Not being the best fund raiser in the world he gets nowhere until the new teacher, fresh from the big city (Dublin) gives him the idea of a cinema. What follows is a very understated master class in the study of belonging, faith (in yourself, dreams and Him), loneliness and finding your place in life. The humour is calm, Stephen Rea plays his usual quiet dark self, here he plays the part of the local politician he is so conservative he makes the Bishop look radical. Along the way we see Sheehan deal with his doubt, not so much in his faith, but his calling, we see Stephen Rea (V for Vendetta, 2005, Citizen X, 1995) play the local politician, a man with no doubt but strong conservative conviction. This is not the fastest movie in the world, but it brings you along with it. The performances wheel you in Martin Sheehan is every bit as great as ever, whether it is a young captain, the President of the United States or the local parish priest.
This is a feel good story, told well. If you liked The Playboys (Gillies McKinnon, 1992) or Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988) then you will like this one. I had doubts about the direction at the start, but it turned out well, the script is tight and smart; the delivery is well timed and delivered with some nice laugh out loud moments Rating 8/10, perfect for when you want to unwind and see a good story.