Irish Malt And American Women

A touching Irish comedy that's good for an evening out.

The bachelors of Kilvara want to get married. At the suggestion of local lass Siobhan (Cathleen Bradley), they place ads in the Miami Herald inviting American women to their village dance, hoping that once they see the men, these supposedly flashy, beautiful, daring women will want to stay on to partake of their lives in the small, tightly-knit village community.

In preparation for their arrival, the men preen and groom themselves and the village priest holds a meeting regarding conduct in the company of the females. The home-grown women of the village are outraged and disgusted in turns as the men reject and disimiss them as plain.

Matters come to a head when the women take revenge on the night of the dance. They invite Spanish fishermen to play music and end up having a good time while the local men languish, bereft of the American women, who never show up and of local female company. Towards the end, the five single men slowly find love but not without certain complications, lots of pleading and drastic changes on their part.

From the producer of "The Full Monty", Uberto Pasolini, a man who seems to be obsessed with the life of the common Irishman, comes a simple and regaling tale. For Director Aileen Ritchie, this is her debut feature film. Her proficiency with the camera and her understanding of the characters she's filming is sure to earn her brownie points. The movie has a very warm and homely feel. Shots of northwest Donegal, quaint white-washed houses, narrow country lanes, the pub - which is the center of village gossip and activity - along with the characters and their accents, all contribute to creating the indigenous flavour of a typical Irish community.

The plot-line is thin and predictable once viewers get used to the initial idea in which the film is grounded. It is the characters who give the film its form and substance. Ian Hart, seen recently in "Michael Collins" and "The End Of The Affair", plays Kieran, one of the central characters. He's a bachelor who thinks he's "God's gift to women". His acting is unselfconscious and natural, though portraying scenes of frustration and despair don't seem to be his forte.

Niamh Cusack plays Kate, a wife saddled with a cheating husband. Her role is small but significant. Sean McGinley, a seasoned actor, plays Ian, a diffident sheep farmer. His performance is controlled and refined. Pat Shortt depicts Ollie, a sexually inexperienced young man who goes to drastic lenghts to educate himself in matters of love, with disastrous results. His character is funny, gentle and lovable. In her portrayal of Siobhan, Bradley gives a spunky performance as a woman scorned.

The film shows a wide range of colourful people, offers a witty script written by William Ivory, and serves up all the elements of a comedy. It is occasionally slapstick and the humour is sometimes subtle and sometimes situational.

This article was first published on 23 Nov 2000.