|Star:||Ian Bannen, David Kelly, Fionnula Flanagan, James Nesbitt|
|Cert / Year:||PG / 1998|
Jackie O'Shea (Ian Bannen) and Michael O'Sullivan (David Kelly) are a couple of loveable old rogues who live in the tiny Irish village of Tullymore (population 52). They have just figured out that the village has a lottery winner and they intend to find out who it is and make friends with them. After much searching they find out that the winner is Ned Devine. The only problem standing between them and a share of the winnings is the fact that Ned is dead. But then again they don't intend to let this little inconvenience stop their plan.
Waking Ned is one of the quaint little feel good movies in much the same mold as Local Hero. Both films deal with a moral dilemma involving money that face a tiny community populated by some really interesting characters, and both have a slightly surreal undertone. The true measure of this type of film though is that do you leave the cinema with and happy heart and a smile on your face, and with this film the answer is yes.
This is a charming story and one in which you know the good people of Tullymore will triumph one way or another. This doesn't mean that the film boring. The nice line in humor means that you develop a bond with the films main protagonists, and are drawn into their scheme to claim the money. It may not pack belly laughs but there are some really great moments, with the nude motorbike scene being the best of the lot.
Key to developing this empathy with the characters is the amazingly strong performances from the cast. This was one of Ian Bannen's last films and it is a fitting tribute to him that his role is key in holding whole thing together, as he plays the ultimate lovable rogue. He is partnered with David Kelly an actor truly at home with comic roles (who could forget Mr. O'Reilly from Fawlty Towers). His flawless delivery gives the film much of its humor. The supporting cast is equally strong from a pre Cold feet James Nesbitt as Pig Finn, to Fionnula Flanagan who plays Jackie’s wife.
The only thing left to mention is the stunning cinematography and the gorgeous locations. The pleasant countryside streams and beautiful coastlines give Tullymore a stunning selection of scenery. This has been put to magnificent use giving the film a timeless charm and a feel of idyllic isolation. What may surprise many is that none of the film was shot in Ireland itself, the production was entirely filmed in the Isle of Man a small country in between England and Ireland. It's unspoiled beauty being a superb replacement for the Irish countryside.
Waking Ned is a top draw feel good film. It has a great story and very strong characters. A fine cast brings this all to life, especially when you add the stunning Manx scenery. This is a funny, happy film and one that is well worth watching if you want to bit of cheering up. In a modern cinema clouded by violent films Waking Ned is a welcome ray of sunshine.
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