Actually, I must wholeheartedly agree with Anna Smith. Having lived in Northern Ireland for several years in the early eighties I was extremely interested in seeing afilm about fundamentalism, which still seems to be rife there when you thinf of people like Ian Paisley (who Macfadyen's Gabriel reminded me strongly of). But despite the brilliant acting (Macfadyen's portrayal of the fanatic reverend is as good as it can get under the circumstances and his Northern Irish accent is great!), we never find out what makes him tick as a person - what brought on this radicalism, this harshness? We can imagine all sorts of child abuse of the young Gabriel, but then again the young Gabriel seems already nearly as grim as the older one. Pity that tha film cannot live up to high expectations. Three stars because of the excellent acting of the three main characters!
Time Out says
Tue Feb 27 2007This Irish period drama finally gets a release just weeks before coming out on DVD – an admission, perhaps, of its failed intentions. ‘Middletown’ should be excellent: there’s a great cast, strong performances, classy cinematography and weighty themes. But it all falls down in the narrative. Matthew Macfadyen is Gabriel, a missionary who returns to preach in his home town in what appears to be the 1950s. There, his radical zeal holds no sway with his progressive sister-in-law Caroline (Eva Birthistle). Gradually, though, he puts the fear of God into the locals, who reluctantly start to skip their Sunday pint in case fire and brimstone rain down upon them. But the characters are slight and often clichéd, making the explosive ending excessively melodramatic. Gabriel’s extreme actions are surely the result of a fascinatingly warped mind, but we’re never given access to his thoughts: he rarely speaks outside of the pulpit. There’s scope here for a thought-provoking exploration of moral and religious issues in the community, but the one-dimensional characters and script let it down.
Author: Anna Smith
Fri Mar 2, 2007