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It seems I have been reviewing many foreign films lately, but I just keep finding great movies that many in America have never seen because these films have trouble getting distributed in the States. While films like Life is Beautiful, Central Station or Il Postino will sometimes break through, many others find their way to the video store and are never seen by fans who would love them. With a little luck, maybe they are at your local video store and you will be able to enjoy them
The Irish film, The Snapper, stars one of my favorite actors. Colm Meaney is very familiar to Star Trek fans as engineer Miles O'Brien but, during the summer hiatuses for Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation, Meaney has made some fantastic films including This is My Father and The Van. Add The Snapper to that list.
Meaney stars as Desmond, a working class Irish father trying to do his best to raise his children. Occasionally, he will join his friends at the pub for a beer and a night of conversation. As the movie opens, he has been given the news every father fears - his 20 year old, unmarried daughter is pregnant.
Sharon (Tina Kellegher) runs with a fast crowd. Her friends like to dance, drink and party. Soon, after one of their wild nights on the town, she realizes that things got out of hand, and she has become pregnant. However, Sharon does not want to reveal the name of the father of the child. Does she know?
Faced with a horrible dilemma, Desmond and Kay (Ruth McCabe) do what any caring parents would, they support and aid their daughter through a difficult time. Soon, rumors start to fly about who the father might be and the family's strength is tested.
Who is the father? Can Sharon mend her wild ways?
Although the movie is likely to be found in your video store's comedy section, it is really a drama about family, responsibility and confronting our past mistakes. Tina Kellegher is wonderful as the young, unmarried mother-to-be who quickly grows into a mature woman. Faced with a giant crisis, she rises above it and shows great responsibility. She is also remorseful over the fateful night and the lifestyle that lead to her condition. Kellegher is able to swing between outrage, remorse, fear and strength to create an admirable character.
Meaney is just as good. When informed about his daughter's pregnancy, Desmond is angry just as any father would be, but he quickly realizes that his child needs him now more than ever. He puts aside his outrage to do what is best for the family. In one of the movies best scenes, Meaney's character defends his daughter's honor when the guys at the pub start making nasty and hurtful comments about her. Some of the films best scenes show the close relationship between Desmond and Sharon as well as Desmond's growing excitement about becoming a grandfather.
The movie and actors benefit from Roddy Doyle's tender script. Instead of creating stereotypical characters with predictable reactions, Doyle gives depth to the film by forcing each character to confront their actions and mistakes. Doyle shows that there are no simple solutions and matters are not clearly defined as wrong or right.
One of the best scenes in the film shows Desmond and Kay struggling with how they will explain Sharon's pregnancy to the other children. They want to teach their children that they should wait to get married before having babies, but must not alienate Sharon when she needs the support of her family. Doyle also creates a difficult atmosphere for the family, which forces them to pull together as their friends and neighbors disassociate with them and even ridicule Sharon.
The Snapper is a wonderful tale about the strength of family and the need to support our loved ones in their time of need. Check it out this weekend.
Director: Stephen Frears
Screenplay: Roddy Doyle
Colm Meaney .. Desmond
Tina Kellegher . Sharon
Ruth McCabe .. Kay
Pat Lafan . George Borges
Karen Woodley Yvonne Borges
Fionnuala Murphy .... Jackie
Brendon Gleeson . Pat
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