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27
4.4 out of 5 stars
Orphans [DVD] [1999]
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2001
From the opening shot of the sons and daughter gathered around their mothers coffin I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. I think Peter Mullan is a genius for making a movie which is both incredibly funny and extremely touching in a completly unsentimental way. The events of the story will constantly catch you off guard which you can't say for most Hollywood films. A real treat and one to own.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2005
I love this film - I give it to anyone who's never heard of it (pretty much everyone) and invariably they love it too - there is so much to enjoy about this film - it truly has everything; laughter and tears and awesome performances.

It never disappoints and I can watch it again and again.

Peter Mullan, winner of Best Actor at Cannes (My Name Is Joe) and the Golden Lion at Venice for directing the Magdalene Sisters, is the writer-director of Orphans, his feature film debut, starring Gary Lewis III (My Name Is Joe, Gangs of New York, Billy Elliot), Douglas Henshall (This Year's Love), Steven McCole, (Acid House) Rosemary Stevenson and Frank Gallacher.

Top actors, perfect in this ensemble, brilliant storyline and direction, if you get this you will not regret it.

Not as well known as Trainspotting owing to Film 4 failing disastrously to distribute this sterling movie, and incidently also burning 40min worth of outtakes - literally burning it and to date failing to explain why.

If it had been properly distributed, far more people would sing it's praises - topnotch.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2006
What to say about this movie that the other reviewers have not already said? Put simply this is a film I and several of my friends and family have seen several times and just never tire of it. It starts off with the family, three sons and a disabled daughter gathered round the coffin of their recently departed Mother making you unsure of which direction the film was leading and what exactly your reaction was to be to the events which unfold over one chaotic Autumn night in Glasgow before a funeral the following morning. You will not be disappointed no matter what you are expecting, it's all here, laughter, tears, love, hate all the things that make life worthwhile. This film deserves to be lauded and it astounds me to this day that most people I speak to have never heard of it, a real pity as it truly ranks among the best movies that I have ever seen. Forget buying yourself a relative or friend the latest Hollywood Blockbuster that you'll watch once or twice and forget in the blink of an eye, this film will stay with you forever you will watch it again and again and get more and more from it with each viewing; the sign of a true Masterpiece
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
To me, this is one of those films, whose scenes linger, almost haunt long after the vague and slightly off-putting title is long forgotten.

Mixing raw emotional drama, worthy of any work by Lars von Trier and the Catholic-induced fantasies that Neil Jordan fused so well into the grime and poverty of modern society this is one hell of a bumpy, but rewarding cinematic ride. In Jordan's case, Ireland, in this, Scottish director Peter Mullan is mid 90's Glasgow.

There's a gutter encrusted language that refuses to shock as it seems so much a part of the angst and misunderstanding of a modern society losing its religion but that same religion has never been more needed. In the same way of Mullan's 'My Name Is Joe', (in which he takes lead part) life is sheer hell at times and grasping onto what you know and rely on is paramount. Whether that faith be in alcohol, drugs, the church or family. Or all four.

So, the mother of the family dies and everybody is highly overwrought. Scotland's finest actors, often only seen in more lame films (Douglas Henshall, for instance is outstanding in this) or the current gritty Scots TV D.I 'Taggart', who ends up not in quite as much control as he's used to. Stalwart actor Gary Lewis (Full Monty, Brassed Off) is the lay priest and brother who tries to keep his family united as well as his church and when a storm hits...

On this, my third viewing, those scenes are worthy of anything - and more - that Hollywood can do. Truly making me goose-bumped and, frankly, perspiring as the score, the focused direction plus performances as good as anything you'll see ably pumps up the melodrama. A revenge plot for a stabbing that leaves Henshall running for cover, injured, blood- soaked and delirious leads him screaming for Sanctuary at his estranged brother's church. Will the Will of God allow personal bitterness to be overcome?

Unusually, another lead - and thankfully, without mawkishness, is a sister to the brothers and who is severely disabled with cerebral palsy and in an electrically powered chair. The sort of plucky girl who thanks people for calling her a 'spastic'. Totally un-PC, but she's grateful for their full frontal honesty. Don't expect a shrinking violet...

'Orphans' might well not be as topical as Mullan's most well known film 'The Magdalene Sisters' and hasn't got the fantastic fantasy and hip- soundtrack of Boyle's Trainspotting. But, for my money, in its own ways it sits up there with the two as some of the very finest Scottish set, or originated, films, ever.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2000
The sombre image of a family mourning the death of a mother, round a coffin in the front room edges you uncomfortably on your seat even before the film really begins.
The box decribes it as a Black Comedy, but that just happens to be a neat genre in which to file it. Some moments at the beggining are very funny, in a 'I really shouldn't be laughing at this' sort of way, but towards the end, the film just turns plain old black. It is all based around a single night, and as the events unfold, so does the directing, as the characters become more and more desperate, so does the graphic style, resulting in some truly moving snapshots of the night.
The one word title of the film represents the irony that these four children are all family (altough they are all totally different and don't even get on), and the word should tell us a little about all of them. Needless to say it doesn't and the depth of divergent character building left me asking whether the director intended to make such a subtle observation on the defragmentation of family life. Since reflecting on the film for a couple of days, I think he probably did.
It's not northern grit, or trainspotting.
It is catastrophic, inspirational art and it left me speechless and shaking for 20 minutes after the end of the film. Buy.........
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2006
This is a great achievement: a film about coming to terms with bereavement but so much more - bursting with invention, not afraid to break boundaries, so that - well, I was going to say the tone veers but actually it seems all of a piece. Mullan told an acquaintance of mine that the film was actually about the death of socialism, and I can see that: it's there all the way through in the implicit condemnation of people who choose to be separate from groups - eg the woman who refuses to let the disabled daughter use the ramp outside her house as it was built for the exclusive use of her late husband - or (in a great performance by Alex Norton) a barman who treats his customers like animals.

I don't want to say how (or even if) they get their comeuppance; all I want to say is that any criticism of the film seems mean-spirited: it feels like a highly personal and a universal statement, which is just about all you can expect from art, intit? So many great, touching, funny moments - for once the cliche along the lines of "You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll [fill in appropriate obscenity]" is nothing more than the simple truth.

I'm so glad Peter Mullan didn't censor himself too much in the writing - by which I mean not worrying whether this was Loach-naturalistic, Forsyth-whimsical, pastoral-tragical or whatever. It's an experience, and just as the late Dilys Powell, seeing Woody Allen's Gershwin-laden Manhattan, came out wondering why she had ever listened to the music of the Who, so having watched this you may end up thinking: "No. No more Merchant Ivory. No more Remains of the Day or Last Orders, thank you VERY much." Or such was my feeling. Not that I want to influence the reader in any way.

But see it, eh? Because how many films take you into the heart of an experience, place you wholly in that world? And it's a healing kinda thing, as I can testify. I've trawled through some of the reviews at rottentomatoes.com; they're split between saying the film lurches from tone to tone, rendering it ridiculous, and saying how well Mullan handles those shifts. I'm with the latter camp. The film is organic, not restricted by an imposed notion of style; it's alive - and life-affirming.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 November 2011
I sometimes feel as though I'm banging my head against a brick wall in praising Peter Mullan, debut director of Orphans, and acting genious (of My Name is Joe, Red Riding, Boy A and Tyrannosaur fame). His recent directing effort NEDS, though a superb film, has disappeared at the Box Office (as did Orphans) as a result of the UK's lamentable film distribution system.

Orphans is a tremendous directing debut, a wonderful black comedy (with more than a hint of Ken Loach, one of Mullan's all-time heroes) and outstanding acting performances from Gary Lewis, Douglas Henshall and Stephen McCole as the three brothers attempting to come to terms with their mother's death. At times hilarious, tragic and beautiful the film surpasses 99% of current films at the UK box office and is essential viewing.

There is also a very interesting set of film outtakes and 'the making of...' documentary included in the DVD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2009
since i saw this film 9 years ago i have owned it on 4 seperate occasions,people have borrowed it and its so good it seems i never received it back,in my opinion this film opens up and connects with the harsh and comical realities of everyday life,it captures ingredients which are imbedded in scottish society and bring them to light in such a serious and often humourous way.i wish more films were like this,if you havent seen it,its an absolute must see.this films tackles issues which are currently a problem in all our daily lives,it connected with me in many ways that most films do not,simply brilliant.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2011
Park Circus is a film distribution company based in Glasgow Scotland. The company specializes in the distribution of classic and back catalogue films. At the end of October they released a new digital transfer of Peter Mullan's directorial debut, his first full length feature film Orphans (1998) a movie that had not been available for some time.

The winner of four awards at the Venice Film Festival in 1998 Orphans tell the story of personal loss and grief involving four siblings, three brothers, Thomas Flynn the eldest, Michael and John, and their wheelchair bound sister Sheila who has cerebral palsy who gather together on the eve of their mothers funeral. All four go on to face individual torments before the actual burial takes place the following day. This unflinching and at times touching and slightly surreal film stars some familiar Scottish actors including Douglas Henshall as Michael, Gary Lewis as Thomas, Stephen McCole plays John with Rosemarie Stevenson as their sister.

When it was originally made there were problems getting it distributed because Film 4 (whom it was discovered at a later date had burnt all the unused film footage without consulting any one) weren't happy about releasing it, the success at the Venice helped, particularly in Europe, although it run in Glasgow for a period of fourteen weeks in 1999. Made with a budget of 1.9 million, the film was shot entirely on location in Glasgow, sadly depicting the city as an extremely violent place. The movie stands the test of time, Mullan put no real timeline references into the film; the only thing that dates it is the lack of mobile phones. The following quote from Peter Mullan sums up the film in my opinion. "It's dark. It's about grief. It's weird, I'd always wanted it to be, and I still think it is, a democratic comedy. The audience can decide what bits to laugh at and what bits they're not going to laugh at."

Who can forget the night at the Robert Burns Cinema in Dumfries when Peter joined us for a question and answer session for his third feature film as director Neds (2011). I said in that ramble that his best-known film was probably The Magdalene Sisters (2002) but Orphans, a dark comedy drama, is a good early indicator of the Scotsman's directorial skills.

Included on the DVD re-issue are three early short films by Mullan, Close (1993), Good Day for The Bad Guys (1995) and Fridge (1995). Made for £500 Close tells the tale of Vincent (Mullan) who lives in a Glasgow tenement block, his wife has just given birth and she will be bringing the baby back to their home shortly. After a derogatory remark about his new born daughter by a drunken neighbour Vincent decides its about time he set about "cleaning" up the his close! An unpretentious enjoyable black comedy.

The second short Good Day for Bad Guys is about a group of four unbalanced entertainers involved in a traditional, but down at heel, Scottish pantomime and how they interact with one another. Starring, along with its director, are Gary Lewis and the Scottish actress Laura Fraser. This short borders the horror genre.

By far the best of the three shorts is Fridge. Rudy (Gary Lewis) and Alice (Vicki Masson) who have problems with alcohol, live rough in the grounds of a run down Glaswegian tenement block. Following a nasty incident involving another rough sleeper a young boy is locked in an abandoned chest freezer, the fridge of the title. Struggling with their own demons Rudy and Alice set out to free the boy before his air runs out. A very bleak film about this county's forgotten under class that could easily be set in 2011 Britain. This is one of the best short films I have ever had the privilege of viewing, one that I will not forget. The DVD is essential viewing for anyone interested in the Scottish actor and director's early works.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 April 2012
Realy dark and well acted Scottish film.Worth a watch.You may need an interpreter if you are from outside the Kingdom of Scotland,but it will be worth it.
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