A man loses first his wife,
then his kids in this holiday tearjerker.
Based on a true court
case first tried in 1953 Evelyn recounts the story of a man on a mission. Rumpled pub-crawler Desmond Doyle (Pierce Brosnan) has a streak
of bad luck when he loses his wife to another man the day after
Christmas and then loses his three
children, Evelyn (Sophie Vavasseur), Maurice (Hugh McDonagh) and Dermot (Niall Beagan), to the Catholic
church and Irish courts. That he's without a wife and a regular job prompts the courts to place the tots in an
orphanage, which he unsucessfully tries to steal them from. This, of course, was not a good move. He
gets caught, and the courts see this as a strike
against him. Doyle does not give up--instead he gets his life together. But it
turns out that an obscure law that has never
been tried in the courts before requires that Doyle's estranged spouse give him
custody of the kids, so he enlists several lawyers (Alan Bates,
Aidan Quinn and Stephen Rea) to help him get
In the end, the story ends happy ever
after, but not without its up and downs. Doyle must
face the hardship of living without his children and
his children must suffer through living in a miserable
Although this story line is based in predictibility-land, the actors
still come out on top. Brosnan's character, with his native Irish accent, anti-Bond dishevelment and
pitful story, is charming. Each time he leaves the
screen he leaves you wanting more. It seems
as though this role was made for him. We are used to seeing
him in the coolly unrealistic role of James Bond, and this is a refreshing change. He shows the
true acting skills that he really has as a father in
agony. Julianna Margulies
also surprises with her protrayal of Bernadette,
Doyle's love interest. She is charming and feisty as
a bartender who enlists her solicitor brother's help to put the devastated father's family back together again.
He may be a double Oscar nominee, but Bruce Beresford's directing here is mediocre. The director, whose only decent film in recent years was 1999's Double Jeopardy, makes a script that is already too obvious painfully so. Pacing is a little slow, some of it is corny (ie: rays of sunshine representing faith) and some of it seems unnecessary (a love-triangle plot). The great acting and chemistry between Doyle and his kids, especially daughter Evelyn, is the best part about this movie.
This is a feel-good film if ever there was one. Bring your tissue for this heart-wrenching pic--you know what is
going to happen, but you'll want to see the ending anyway.