Dancing at Lughnasa
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Time Out saysDonegal, 1936. The Mundy sisters - five of them, none married - welcome home their brother Jack, a missionary (Gambon). But whatever their private hopes, the bewildered Jack proves just another burden to carry. The eldest, Kate (Streep), is a schoolteacher, but her wage is barely enough to feed them all. Agnes (Brennan) and the simple-minded Rose (Thompson) help out with their knitting, while Maggie (Burke) keeps house and Christina (McCormack) cares for her young son Michael. Framed as the grown boy's wistful evocation of his childhood, Brian Friel's luminous play presents more than the usual problems attendant on 'opening out' for the cinema. A magical reverie in which a crackled radio broadcast can conjure its own special epiphany, ghosts of pagan gods and a heartbreaking sense of home and family, this might have been ideal material for Terence Davies. But O'Connor is altogether too literal a director, his costume drama naturalism sitting oddly with the play's more nebulous sense of reality. Nevertheless, it looks ravishing, Frank McGuinness's adaptation retains the play's subtle sibling interaction, and Streep's virtuosity of expression is as spectacular as ever.