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58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Dancing as if language no longer existed."
Directed by Pat O'Connor and exquisitely filmed (by Kenneth MacMillan) in the countryside of Donegal, this ensemble drama is adapted from the stage play by Brian Friel. Screenwriter Frank McGuinness sticks close to the dialogue of the play but opens up the rural cottage setting to include brief scenes of the town of Ballybeg, the stunning and untamed countryside, and the...
Published on 4 Nov 2004 by Mary Whipple

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Acting, rather disappointing ending
This movie has a fabulous cast, who deliver great performances. All the sisters are engaging and Michael Gambon as the dotty brother is fantastic. Loved the movie except for about the last 10 minutes. It just kind of petered out with a voice over summary. Beginning, Middle, End - there was no End.
Published on 15 Feb 2011 by S. Duncan


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58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Dancing as if language no longer existed.", 4 Nov 2004
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Directed by Pat O'Connor and exquisitely filmed (by Kenneth MacMillan) in the countryside of Donegal, this ensemble drama is adapted from the stage play by Brian Friel. Screenwriter Frank McGuinness sticks close to the dialogue of the play but opens up the rural cottage setting to include brief scenes of the town of Ballybeg, the stunning and untamed countryside, and the pagan harvest celebration, the Feast of Lughnasa. Set in 1936, the film focuses on the difficult lives of five unmarried sisters and an eight-year-old love child, when Ireland was on the verge of World War II and industrialization. The film stresses character and theme, rather than plot, highlighting the relationships among the sisters as they cope with the arrival of their brother, a priest returning from Uganda after twenty-five years, and the summer-long visit of Gerry Evans, father of Christina's child, Michael.
Kate (Meryl Streep), the sister who is "in charge," is the only real wage earner in the family. Rigid, severe, and lacking in humor, she believes pagan celebrations, such as the Feast of Lughnasa, which still provide fun and enjoyment in the countryside, are "uncivilized." Her priest brother (sensitively played by Michael Gambon), however, is now virtually a pagan himself. Though he is clearly unbalanced, he has learned the need of the poor for happiness, dancing, and community celebration, even if it is not church-sanctioned.
The other Mundy sisters help illustrate the chasm between Kate's attitudes and those of Fr. Jack. Maggie (Kathy Burke), the fun-loving, free-spirited, and most humorous of the sisters, constantly bursts into singing and dancing. Christina has fun during the summer with lover Gerry Evans but feels no need to marry him. Aggie (Brid Brennan) and Rose (Sophie Thompson), who earn small wages knitting gloves, work as the family's sad, "unpaid servants," and constantly chafe against Kate's strictures and the lack of fun. When Kate loses her job, the family is devastated, but it is at that moment that they discover the joy of dancing and recognize the need to celebrate life itself.
The dramatic opening with its photographs of African celebrations sets the tone for the film, and the music, sometimes featuring traditional Celtic instruments (accordian, fiddle, and bodhran), suggests common pagan roots. The cinematography is stunning, and the cast is as good as it gets. As is sometimes characteristic of plays converted to film, the dialogue is a bit exaggerated, as it has to be on stage, where close-ups and subtle gestures are not possible, and Streep's role is especially extreme, but the film is beautifully realized, and its thematic development is sensitive and memorable. Mary Whipple
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Acting, rather disappointing ending, 15 Feb 2011
By 
S. Duncan (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dancing At Lughnasa (1998) [DVD] (DVD)
This movie has a fabulous cast, who deliver great performances. All the sisters are engaging and Michael Gambon as the dotty brother is fantastic. Loved the movie except for about the last 10 minutes. It just kind of petered out with a voice over summary. Beginning, Middle, End - there was no End.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dramatically inert but emotionally intense., 3 July 2012
This review is from: Dancing At Lughnasa (1998) [DVD] (DVD)
Nothing happens in Dancing at Lughnasa, and yet the film has a powerful emotional intensity, despite being so defiantly uncinematic.

The film is narrated by adult Michael (only seen as a boy), who looks back on his childhood in a small Irish town in the thirties, living with his single mother (Catherine McCormack), four spinster aunts and their senile brother (Michael Gambon).It is set during the August of 1936, with the Lughnasa festival approaching. Meryl Streep does Irish, and does it very well. She plays eldest sister Kate, a pious schoolmarm. The other Mundy sisters are cheery Maggie (Kathy Burke), quiet Agnes(Brid Brennan), simple minded Rose (Sophie Thompson), and youngest daughter Christina (Catherine McCormack). They live a pious sheltered existence until the arrival of their only brother Father Jack (Michael Gambon), a missionary converted by African paganism, and Gerry (Rhys Ifans), Michael's father and Christina's one-time lover.

The whole thing is very Chekhovian. Characters are hopelessly in love with the wrong people and they know it. Life continues quietly, with a few bursts of happiness (though the motif of singing and dancing to express joy is a little contrived) but predominant hardship.

Acting is excellent throughout. This is not showy acting but quietly understated acting. Rhys Ifans plays against type (sort of) as good-hearted Gerry, whose free spirit means that he will never commit. As far as the events of the film go, you know how things are going to turn out. Director Pat O'Connor firmly establishes the tone of Chekhovian nostalgia early into the film so if that isn't your thing, you won't like this film. His directing style is slow and lingering- so slow that it feels like real time- but it sort of works here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dancing at Lugnasa, 18 April 2012
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This review is from: Dancing At Lughnasa (1998) [DVD] (DVD)
One of the best interpretations of a bygone rulal community that I have ever seen.
Supurb characters are expertly portayed by its all star cast.
A must see for those who enjoy rural dramas.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dancing at Lughnasa DVD, 23 May 2010
By 
Stephanie Rhodes (Perth Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dancing At Lughnasa (1998) [DVD] (DVD)
a wonderful movie so sad but so real as life was then in rural Ireland
a cast that played their parts to perfection
you will not be disappointed
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4.0 out of 5 stars Music's power to move, 22 April 2014
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This review is from: Dancing At Lughnasa (1998) [DVD] (DVD)
This film gives an interesting insight to life in north western Ireland during the Depression years and most particularly from the viewpoint of the women. Streep is a consummate actor; one of the best. Her ability to convey emotions through her mannerisms is astounding.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good, 13 April 2014
This review is from: Dancing At Lughnasa (1998) [DVD] (DVD)
got this dvd after watching film on tv, love it, its funny sad would recommend you to watch it great actors in it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great film, 16 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Dancing At Lughnasa (1998) [DVD] (DVD)
Brilliant, poignant story telling of 5 impoverished sisters in Ireland on 1936. Touches all emotions with fine acting and great direction
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining., 18 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Dancing At Lughnasa (1998) [DVD] (DVD)
Good product. What more can one ask of a film than to ask actors and director to interpret the authors story faithfully.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Family Bonds, 9 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Dancing At Lughnasa (1998) [DVD] (DVD)
Such a great movie....reveals in each character the different ways love within the family circle is expressed, but, not always understood....each actor superbly matched to their part....the location is beautiful....inside, the house scenes capture the way of life perfectly.....
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Dancing At Lughnasa (1998) [DVD]
Dancing At Lughnasa (1998) [DVD] by Pat O'Connor (DVD - 2008)
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