Saturday, May 26, 2007

Movie Watch! - Rory O'Shea Was Here

Rory O'Shea Was Here (2004) - James McAvoy plays the titular character, a young man who wants to prove that his muscular dystrophy is no obstacle to living a full life. In Carrigmore, a home for the handicapped, he befriends Michael Connelly (played by Steven Robertson), who has cerebral palsy and has been living in homes like Carrigmore his whole life, abandoned by his father after his mother dies. Michael's condition has left him unable to speak in a way anybody can interpret easily, leaving most people to think of him as dead in the brain. Rory, of course, finds that he can interpret Michael's words and becomes his translator. Through the course of their friendship, each reveals something poignant about the stigmas society so quickly places on the handicapped. In his drive for independence, Rory shows Michael that there is so much more to live for than one can ever hope to find trapped in a home for the handicapped. James McAvoy is like a younger, slyly handsome Edward Norton. It's hard to believe that this is the same guy who played Idi Amin's personal physician in The Last King of Scotland (read my review here). He has all the devilish charm of a Scotsman and all the versatility of an actor twice his age. Despite our natural inclinations to feel sorry for his condition, McAvoy's insightful performance reveals Rory's rebellious distaste for such constant and meaningless pity, as well as the frustrated, angst-ridden front that he puts up when he himself falls into the trap of his own self-inflicted misery. There is something unexpectedly touching, even as we realize that the script's tendency to virtually exploit human emotions. Even when the script goes for the easy solution, we still feel a tender connection that we probably shouldn't, if not for such strong performances on behalf of McAvoy and Robertson. Fair enough. They've earned it. 7/10

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