Loosely based on the journals of Anne Devlin, Murphy's second feature (following Maeve) shows how, at the start of the 19th century, the daughter of an Irish peasant farmer becomes a collaborator with the rebel leader Robert Emmet, and proves to be stronger than any man. The fight for Irish independence is equated with the struggle for female emancipation, with the military conflict occurring off-camera, concentrating attention on the battle Anne wages at home. This restraint is maintained throughout: Murphy demonstrates rather than remonstrates. With the beauty of the Vermeer-like interiors and the towering performance of Brid Brennan compensating for the somewhat slow pace, Anne Devlin is a powerful, compassionate, and ultimately persuasive film.
Cast and crew