Dancing at Lughnasa

Film

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Time Out says

Donegal, 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.
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Release details

UK release:

1998

Duration:

95 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Pat O'Connor

Cast:

Sophie Thompson, Brid Brennan, Kathy Burke, Catherine McCormack, Michael Gambon, Meryl Streep, Rhys Ifans

Music:

Bill Whelan

Production Designer:

Mark Geraghty

Editor:

Humphrey Dixon

Cinematography:

Kenneth MacMillan

Screenwriter:

Frank McGuinness

Producer:

Noel Pearson

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Pam Lee

The whole scenery was very beautifully filmed and showed an interesting glimpse of Ireland in the 1930's. The actors themselves kept one clued to the screen as the story quietly unfolded. I felt the film ended rather abruptly, almost as if the writer had run out of ideas. The short commentary by the then grown up boy did not clearly explain what happened to the five sisters. Thus making a very poor ending to this delightful drama. A much clearer explanation of what happened to the sisters would have been a more sensitive and satisfactory ending.