6 fierce Irish films for a St Patrick’s Day movie marathon
Top of the mornin’ to ya. There’s something special about the magical and mystical island known as Ireland. It’s a place where luck runs good and bad, leprechauns inspire cereals, beer looks like Coca-Cola and passions run deep!
Whether you’re playing rugby, leaving your heart behind, wielding political power, trying to claim a winning lottery ticket, taking down an underground syndicate or uncovering long forgotten secrets, you can stream Ireland in all its green glory this St Patrick’s Day!
Waking Ned Devine (Labia Home Screen)
Waking Ned Devine is the quintessential Irish film, set in the quaint seaside village of Tully More, where villagers take it upon themselves to claim a lottery windfall when Ned Devine, the winning ticket holder, unexpectedly passes away. “The luck of the Irish” is a recurring national theme, whether it’s four-leafed clovers, pulling off famous victories or outwitting leprechauns to get their pot o’ gold. Starring Ian Bannen and David Kelly, this delightful and whimsical comedy captures the essence of Ireland, from sweeping vistas and Guinness-swilling to charm-your-socks-off characters.
Somehow a fraudulent act is turned into a community project as the winner’s location is pinpointed by news channels and locals try to get a share in Ned’s winnings. (It’s what he would’ve wanted, of course.) Quirky, funny, quaint and full of village oddballs, this entertaining and spirited yarn is bound to put a smile on your face and is good enough to become a St Patrick’s Day tradition.
IMDB rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 84%
Saoirse Ronan has porcelain features, which make her seem like she comes from another time. She’s perfectly cast as Eilis in Brooklyn, a windswept romance drama about an Irish immigrant who’s forced to choose between Ireland and America. In a gentle, compelling and headstrong lead performance, Ronan’s able to swathe us in her brave new world, from her career ambitions as a woman in the 50s to her arduous ocean voyages.
Brooklyn is an immersive journey of love, hope and resilience. Meticulous production design, accurate wardrobe, makeup and hair makes this period drama convincing as entire department stores and bustling New York streets come to life. This is a little big film, nuanced enough to distinguish itself from Hollywood and heartfelt in its triumph of the human spirit. Ronan was born to play this part and honours the casting decision with a performance that permeates and immortalises every frame.
IMDB rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 97%
Bad Day for the Cut (Netflix)
If you enjoyed Taken or any of the films it’s inspired since its release, you should make a point of adding Bad Day for the Cut to your watch list. It doesn’t have Liam Neeson or Luc Besson but it does have a lot of fight, homegrown authenticity and an equally relentless pursuit. When a middle-aged farmer discovers his mother has been murdered, he makes it his mission to hunt down her killers.
Set in rural Northern Island, the independent thriller has grit and an undercurrent of compelling realism. Nigel O’Neill isn’t a big-name star but delivers a rich performance that powers this ultra-violent yet offhandedly funny drama thriller. In a road trip of sorts, Donal finds himself taking down bad guys ascending the food chain with an unlikely sidekick. The grounded action and interrogation scenes keep it in-your-face. A Bad Day for the Cut aims for the entertainment value of a Martin McDonagh film with a similar unfettered feel to Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin.
IMDB rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 92%
Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney co-star in The Journey, an inspirational historical biographical drama about a critical turning point during the 2006 Northern Ireland peace talks. Exploring the bitter feud between Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness and Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley, The Journey unpacks their fly-on-the-car-interior-wall discussions as they’re forced to travel together.
Spall and Meaney are two recognisable acting veterans who have just got on with it over the years. Besides dramatising this important road trip, it serves as an acting showcase as seemingly untenable circumstances give way to pure humanity and the power of forgiveness. Showcasing a political chess game between old enemies, The Journey also speaks to putting aside petty differences for the greater good.
IMDB rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 68%
Handsome Devil (Netflix)
Handsome Devil is set at a rugby-mad boarding school and tells the story of an unlikely friendship as an outsider is forced to share a room with the new guy, a star athlete. You could describe this coming-of-age sports comedy drama as a blend of Spud, Dead Poet’s Society and School Ties. The schoolboy shenanigans of resident oddball Spud Milton and inspirational teacher-student dynamics of being extraordinary and seizing the day slowly blur as deep-seated prejudice comes into focus. Starring Fionn O’Shea, Nicholas Galitzine and Andrew Scott, this schoolboy comedy drama is compelled by spirited performances.
While familiar and leaning on schoolboy genre classics, it’s refreshing as an underdog story told in a mainstream way featuring gay characters. Fans of Sing Street, which also deals with music, school, a muse, tolerance and teamwork, will enjoy the crossover between these gutsy and heartfelt Irish films.
IMDB rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 83%
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan are two of the most unlikely people to star opposite each other. Dench is a revered national treasure with a heart of gold and Coogan is an irreverent charlatan with a wisecracking mouth. This element of surprise is what makes Philomena so entertaining, constantly keeping you on your toes as director Stephen Frears shatters one expectation after another. Centred on a disgraced journalist’s new assignment, the story tracks a mystery involving a teenager who had to give up her baby for adoption after being confined to a Catholic convent.
Based on a true story, this globe-trotting adventure takes this odd couple from London to Maryland and onto Northern Ireland. Oscillating between comedy and drama, the slow-boiling mystery at its core adds another deeply affecting dimension. Led by two excellent performances, Philomena’s unfussy approach takes you by surprise as its brooding and weighty themes emerge.
IMDB rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 91%