Dublin, 1953: Intermittently employed carpenter Desmond Doyle (Brosnan) is struggling after his unfaithful wife left him and their three children, and the kids end up in the care of the Church. To secure their release requires the consent of both parents, and since his spouse has emigrated, Doyle can only douse his frustration in the black stuff. Kindly barmaid Bernadette (Margulies) registers his plight, however, and puts him in touch with sympathetic lawyer Michael Beattie (Rea). Given the cosy relationship between Church and State at the time, the case will be unprecedented, since the pursuit of Doyle's free access to his children involves a direct challenge to the Irish constitution. This significant historical moment is ripe with dramatic potential, but instead of the clear-headed resolve the material demands, Beresford's film offers slush, blarney and grandstanding actors, while Paul Pender's screenplay blithely shovels the facts into a bog of celluloid clichés. Producer/star Brosnan turns an ordinary workman up against it into a study in relentless versatility - he sings in the pub, he bonds with the littl'uns, he beams with redemption. The intent is ingratiating, the effect emetic.