Released: May 6 2004
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Julianna Marguiles, Alan Bates, Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea, Sophie Vavasseur, John Lynch
Director: Bruce Beresford
Rated: M15+ low level coarse language
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Desmond Doyle is devastated when his wife abandons their family on the day after Christmas. His unemployment and the fact that there is no woman in the house to care for the children, Evelyn, Noel and Brendan, make it clear to the authorities that his is an untenable situation. The Catholic Church and the Irish courts decide the Doyle children put into Church-run orphanages. Although a sympathetic judge assures Desmond that when his financial situation reverses, he will be able to get his children back; money is hard to come by. During that time, Evelyn and her brothers suffer the abuses of living in orphanages while Desmond struggles to secure finances. Now he must battle the courts to get his children back.
'Evelyn' is one of those feel-good movies that is very harmless but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have something to say. It was a landmark decision in law for Ireland and set a new precedent for custody issues because of the perseverance of Desmond Doyle, played well here by Pierce Brosnan. It is set in Ireland, 1954 and Doyle is a man who places his family first and was willing to fight for them. His wife runs away - possibly to Australia, and he has no job so his meddling mother-in-law dobs him in to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. They remove Doyle's children because he has no job meaning no way to support them. He is appalled at the callousness of the decision and vows to fight for their return. He eventually gains employment but in Ireland in 1954, if the children had only one parent, custody was only awarded to one parent with the consent of both parents and Doyle's wife could not be found. And so the battle begins.
The first half of the movie sets the scene for the courtroom drama that is to follow. Ireland is not the brightest place and so many of the settings are quite drab, which conveys a feeling of pessimism. It is the people and their character that liven the surroundings. It was hard not to feel compassion for Doyle, especially if you have children of your own and know the bond a parent has with their children. Sophie Vavasseur is Evelyn from the title of the movie and is the dearest girl. She gives a courtroom speech that is remarkable for someone her age. She and Pierce have some good chemistry going and it is obvious that Pierce has his own children because he is very convincing that he genuine.
'Evelyn' is the type of movie that you can see and not feel threatened or assaulted but happy that common sense prevails and that there is a point in pursuing something you feel strongly about, especially where your family is concerned. It won't set the box office on fire, but at least it is an offering of a genuine heart-warming film.
Rating : B-