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The Lord's Burning Rain

Ireland 2013
produced by
Maud O'Callaghan for Destiny Films
directed by Maurice O'Callaghan
starring Harry O'Callaghan, Jon Kenny, Caroline Morahan, Jonathan Ryan, Christy O'Sullivan, Maurice O'Callaghan, Richard Swanton, Niall O'Callaghan, Iseult O'Callaghan, Michael Crowley, Suzy O'Callaghan, Freya Hammer, Jill Kingston, Peter Gowen, Liam Stack, Lorraine McCourt, Nigel Mercier, Seamus Newham, Marc Shelley, John McDonald, Jim Black, Colin Lane, Alan Walsh, Dominic Hewitt, Donal O'Farrell, Paul Kelly, Mark Foley, Ronan Verling, Matt Walsh, Mary Walsh
story and screenplay by Maurice O'Callaghan, music by John Lynch, Ciarán O'Gealbháincinematography by Mario Bortas

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Rural Ireland, the 1960's: It seems to be an easy enough task that 16 year old Donnchadh (Harry O'Callaghan) is given, just ride a horse his dad has just bought home over a couple of hills. On his way though, Dobnnchadh passes a memorial for the IRA heroes of the Irish War of Independence, and while he pauses for a minute to pay his respects, he is met by a beautiful girl (Caroline Morahan) trying to seduce him ... but he soon has to find out her gang is only trying to steal his horse while he's distracted. He gets away with his horse just in time though.

Continuing his journey through the unfamiliar countryside, Donnchadh is stopped by Sweetmount (Jonathan Ryan), a simple farmer who invites him in for tea as bad weather seems to be approaching - and from Sweetmount, who turns out to be a protestant whose family has collaborated with the British, Donnchadh finds out quite a few things about the Irish War of Idependence and the Civil War that followed, something that does not necessarily shed the best of lights on Donnchadh's family, either. Since Donnchadh was born way after the Civil War was fought, Sweetmount bears no personal grudge against him though, and lets him move on with his sincere blessings, too ... but Donnchadh is to pass through the very neighbourhood Sweetmount has told him about, and seeing the area now, all abandoned but still bearing traces of the war, he sees history, and especially the cruel untold parts of it, unfold before his eyes.

When Donnchadh finally arrives home, hours after he was expected, he is full of questions and doubts ...

 

The Lord's Burning Rain is a quite fascinating film, as it, in an episodic yet linear way, at the same time tells its (at times very violent) story on two narrative levels in a very lyrical, almost poetic way, but also sheds a light on Irish history of the last 100 or so years, by asking (and intentionally not answering) questions about right and wrong before the backdrop of a civil war, by not celebrating heroes but commemorating the losses on both sides. Now add to that beautiful camerawork, a competent ensemble cast, and a directorial effort that relies on the lyrical and associative aspects of its story rather than hitting us in the face with a straightforward narrative, and you've got yourself something really good.

That said, it's most certainly not an easy film, and one that might take a bit of patience, but if you're up for it, it's as thought-provoking as it is quite simply beautiful.

 

 

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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written by
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