An adaptation of the novel by William Trevor (whose Ballroom of Romance O'Connor adapted for TV a few years back), following the fortunes of a wealthy middle class Irish family during the violent period of revolutionary Republicanism and British military repression in the 1920s and '30s, this is made with such loving care that one can easily forgive its minor weaknesses. The tranquil life of the Quinton family is shattered when an attack on their rural home by the notorious 'Black and Tans' leaves young Willie's father and two sisters dead. Five years later, his mother (Christie) is a drunken wreck, and not even a tender love affair with his childhood friend Marianne (Mastrantonio) can free Willie (Glen) from his morbid obsession with the man (Dudgeon) who destroyed his family. O'Connor's assured direction effortlessly evokes the historical period without detracting from the emotional core of the unfolding drama; only some puzzling flashes forward and Iain Glen's over-pitched grimacing seem out of key. There are times too, when Hans Zimmer's musical score seems to be straining for a dramatic impact that the quietly engrossing emotional drama can't always match. Special praise, though, for Julie Christie, who is equally convincing as the vivacious young wife and as the dipsomaniac widow.
Cast and crew
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio