So here it is St. Patrick’s Day once more, and being the nutty Irishman that I am I thought I would review this slightly older film that has sadly been passed over. What’s new about that though? I mean, America has been ignoring the Irish plight for forever any way. I have great sympathy for the Irish and specifically for the Irish Republic. I also admire Michael Collins, who – at the age of 31 – had brought the British Empire to its knees. He did what no man had ever dreamt of: he got the British government to acknowledge the Irish plight for freedom. The tragedy of his life is beautifully retold in this film.
The film stars Liam Neeson as Michael, and he looks disturbingly similar to the heroic figure. Aidan Quinn also stars as Collins’ right hand man, Harry. Quinn is wonderful as he brings this character to life. Julia Roberts also stars as the woman caught in the middle of the strife of the Irish Republic and the British Empire. She’s perfectly fit for the part, though I do believe more could have been done with the character – a fault on the writer’s end. The film is directed by Neil Jordan whom so few people ever recall as a director. Jordan has director several films that I believe require a very delicate hand. Those films include “Interview with a Vampire” and “the Crying Game”.
The real let down of this movie is Alan Rickman, whom is far too British to play an Irishman – especially one as complicated as “Dev”, Eamon De Valera. I love Rickman, but this is not a good fit for him. Neeson on the other hand does a fantastic job of capturing the passionate oration of Collins. However, I was a little disappointed by Jordan’s treatment of Collins. He continuously is portrayed as this brute of a man from West Cork: a “bog man”. However, in real life, Collins was an astute businessman and financier. Collins raised a TON of money for the cause of the Irish Republic and he did it while on the run from the Brits. As with most biopic pictures, there is often a gap in the true story in lieu of making a “more interesting” film. I disagree with that approach, but I understand the need to shorten some aspects of a life to the point of omission for the sake of run time conservation.
The film may not be entirely accurate to the real story, but I can forgive these gaps because this film is very, very good. It is a tr