There’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People, and then there are the movies that won’t embarrass you in front of your Irish pals. So if you feel like indulging your urges with some soda bread and a seriously good Irish flick, here are some options worth queuing up. Sláinte!
There’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People, and then there are the movies that won’t embarrass you when you bring them up around your Irish pals.
If you’re like me, you’re part Irish. If you’re like how I was as a teenager, you loudly proclaim that to everyone you know. Luckily, six months in Ireland helped me discover the true lesson of studying abroad: “How to cool it with your inherently American I-Know-Everything-About-Other-Cultures attitude and let the natives tell you what’s up.” Because I’m not Irish. Or, rather, I’m like fourth generation Irish, and that hardly counts. Despite my Irish friends’ gentle yet firm insistence of that fact, they were more than willing to show me how to be as Irish as possible.
In the spirit of honesty, I have to admit that being as Irish as possible does not involve staying in on St. Paddy’s Day* to watch movies. Unlike on the Emerald Isle, it’s not a national holiday, and we all have to go to work the next day. So if you feel like indulging your urges with some soda bread and a seriously good Irish flick, here are some options worth queuing up. Sláinte!
Michael Collins (Neil Jordan, 1996)
One of Liam Neeson’s finest moments and a must-see for a nice introduction into modern Irish history. You’ve heard of Bloody Sunday, but do you know about the events that took place decades beforehand that planted the seeds for all the turmoil? Granted, those seeds are actually hundreds of years old, but it was Michael Collins who put them in new soil and sprinkled them with water. Guys, it was a compromise! Politically necessary? You tell me!
Disco Pigs (Kirsten Sheridan, 2001)
Before his debut on the international silver screen, Cillian Murphy manages to creep out and wring hearts and the same time. There aren’t a whole lot of movies that I’ve seen multiple times (who has time anymore?), but this one will never get old. Directed by the daughter of notable Irish director Jim Sheridan, Disco Pigs is doubly recommended for anyone who was an awkward teen and/or had trouble getting over a crush and/or likes to cut holes in walls. If all three of those apply to you, I must urge you to treat this film as a cautionary tale.
In the Name of the Father (Jim Sheridan, 1993)
Remember all that Michael Collins stuff? Daniel Day-Lewis is feeling the effects of centuries of built-up tension as he’s falsely arrested for a famous IRA pub bombing. DDL is brilliant, as always, and roles like these are his specialty. Too bad the Northern Ireland situation has to be so frigging incendiary all the time. Thanks, Michael! Or is it
The Commitments (Alan Parker, 1991)
My siblings and I watched this over and over again in the 90s, and I’m not sure why. It could be because of our fake Irishness, or it could be the fact that we really believed we could somehow put together a hilariously entertaining band. The Roddy Doyle novel on which this film was based was one of a series that chronicled the Rabbitte family’s misadventures (see The Snapper, below). Keep an eye out for Glen Hansard, who would go on to enjoy success in The Frames, the movie Once, and The Swell Season.
The Snapper (Stephen Frears, 1993)
Adapted from another of Roddy Doyle’s novels (see also The Van), The Snapper is shriekingly funny. Almost as funny as when an Irish person recommended it to me, and I had to ask him to repeat himself about ten times before I understood what the hell he was saying. A “snapper,” Americans, is a “baby.” And Sharon is about to have one of them without telling anyone in her nosy neighborhood who the father is. Don’t worry, Hester Prynne she is not, and this film will give you all sorts of adorable 90s chuckles.
* And you’d never, ever say St. Patty’s day. Patty is short for Patricia. Paddy is short for Patrick. Don’t ask me. I didn’t make the rules.