This is My Father
We all have a need to know about our family history. I have always believed that one cannot know where the future leads without knowing about the past. Our family history defines us and instructs us in our everyday lives. We can learn many lessons from those who passed through this world before. This Saint Patrick's Day, settle down with this beautiful Irish tale.
James Caan stars as Kieren, a bitter widowed teacher. He has never met his father and doesn't know anything about the man who gave him life. His mother has suffered a stroke and doesn't interact with the family anymore. Kieren must fear that he will never learn about his father now that his mother cannot communicate.
One afternoon, he stumbles across some old photos and letters in his mother's attic. They are from the 1930's and look like they might be the key to the mystery. Kieren decides to travel to Ireland and find the truth about his father. Maybe he is still alive?
Kieren takes up residence in a boarding home run by Seamus (Colm Meaney) and his mother. He convinces the mother to convey what she knows about his father in a stunning tale of young love. The story goes like this. Young Kieran O'Day (Aidan Quinn) was an orphan taken in by an older couple who needed help on their farm. Now a grown man, he works all day, but doesn't have much else in his life until he meets Fiona (Moya Farrelly). While they are deeply in love, everyone seems to be against it.
Can they find happiness? Is Kieren O'Day the father of Kieren?
James Caan gets to show a tender side in this movie that you don't normally see. His character longs for the truth about his lineage and hopes to teach his nephew (Jacob Tierney) a valuable lesson. Caan is wonderful as he struggles with his classroom of misfits, a nephew who is getting into trouble and a disabled mother. I hope Caan takes more of these roles.
Moya Farrelly and Aidan Quinn make the movie interesting. The tale of their long ago love affair is riveting. We have often seen this type of plot before; older man having a relationship with a younger woman who is mature and wise beyond her years. However, Quinn and Farrelly have great chemistry and both play their parts perfectly. Quinn makes Kieren into a slow minded, but pure of heart decent man wanting no more out of life than a wife and farm. Farrelly makes her character into a brash, rebellious, adventurous young lady hoping to start a new life in America. The two open up new worlds to each other.
After spending some time watching the other inhabitants of the town, you can understand why Fiona wants to leave. It is a very repressive town where the local pastor warns all of the residents that they are going to hell and everything they do is wrong in the eyes of God. One of the best scenes comes towards the end of the movie as Kieren O'Day goes to confession and discusses his feeling for Fiona with the priest. The priest's reactions are shocking. Don't get me wrong. I am not picking on the Catholic church (I'm a member). Neither is the movie.
The making of This is My Father was a family affair. It marks the writing and directing debut of Aidan Quinn's brother, Paul Quinn. He spent six months in Ireland and that experience, teamed with a similar story his mother used to tell him, inspired Quinn to write the movie. However, he put it aside for ten years after he returned to America. "I needed the time to live life a bit and develop something to say, to give the film a theme that mattered to me," says Quinn. After completing the script, he gave it to brothers Aidan and director of photography Declan Quinn to read and critique. Paul feared they might not like it, but they enthusiastically backed the project.
At a time when most movies are geared to the teeny-bopper set, it is refreshing to see a mature movie. You'll love this touching tale and its gorgeous scenery. The entire movie was filmed in Ireland and you get to see some of the most beautiful lush scenery on the planet.
James Caan Kieren Johnson
Jacob Tierney .Jack
Colm Meaney .Seamus
Brendon Gleason Officer Jim
Susan Almgren ... Betty
Moira Deady .. Mrs. Kearney (Seamus' Mother)
Aidan Quinn ..Kieren O'Day
Moya Farrelly Fiona
John Cusack ..Eddie Sharp
Gina Moxley . Widow Flynn
Donal Donnelly .. John Maney
Maria McDermottroe .Mrs. Maney
Stephen Rea .. Father Quinn
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