St. Patrick’s Day: 5 Irish Gems

Ah, Ireland. A country of underdogs, drinking, potatoes, and leprechauns – or so the stereotypes teach us. A country that forces actors to attempt accents which they never should have attempted. (Have you ever heard Tom Cruise pretend to be Irish in Far and Away? I think his speech coach was an inebriated leprechaun.) But Ireland is also a country of fervent patriots stern fighters, and hard workers. It gave us Colin Farrell, Kenneth Branagh, and Pierce Brosnan (could you survive without his Mamma Mia performance?) Ireland bestowed upon us the music of U2, Celtic Woman, Dropkick Murphys, and the Cranberries. Without Ireland we wouldn’t even have Shamrock Shakes! So as everyone celebrates dear St. Patrick by drinking beer at noon on a Sunday, we decided to put together our list of favorite Irish movies for your reading pleasure. Please read responsibly.

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Movie: My Left Foot
Why It’s Awesomely Irish: A remarkable story about Irishman Christy Brown (played by Daniel Day-Lewis), a cerebral palsy victim who learned to write using the only limb he could move: his left foot. Yes, that’s how talented Day-Lewis is. He can win the most prestigious award in acting with only the use of one foot. The movie was based on Brown’s autobiography and paints a vivid picture of Ireland without encouraging stereotypes. The Irish writer grew up in a tiny house with too many siblings, a drunk as a father, and a mother who was forced to hide any extra money. My Left Foot is a testament to human determination and reminded us that there is, in fact, a person behind their disability. Apparently Daniel Day-Lewis, ever the method actor, was transported around in a wheelchair throughout the entire shoot and broke two ribs because of his hunched-over position. That’s dedication, folks!
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Redhaired woman in a green dress with a man with stubbly beard wearing a grey top and blue jeans

Movie: Leap Year
Why It’s Awesomely Irish: The scenery in this romantic comedy is gorgeous and the movie isn’t half bad itself. Following the Irish legend that a woman who propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day is guaranteed to seal the deal, Anna (Amy Adams) travels to the rolling hills and smelly peat bogs of Ireland to find her boyfriend (he’s on a business trip) and pop the question. Anne is forced to travel with scruffy Declan (Matthew Goode, a wholly unappreciated actor) to Dublin. Through basic romantic comedy tropes, Declan and Anna realize that their opposing personalities attract, although Goode and Adams manage to keep it fresh. Guaranteed to make your insides all warm and fuzzy (as any good rom-com should), Leap Year‘s charming Irish backdrop provides plenty of local folklore and colorful characters.
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Movie: The Luck of the Irish
Why It’s Awesomely Irish: As any child who watched the Disney Channel in the early 2000s knows, The Luck of the Irish was a first-class DCOM (for those of you who don’t know, although I don’t know why you wouldn’t – Disney Channel Original Movie). Ryan Merriman plays golden-boy Kyle Johnson, a popular high school star basketball player who discovers he’s part-Leprechaun. Through ancient Irish sports (such popular pastimes as throwing massive rocks and chucking wagon wheels) and a little game of b-ball, Kyle is able to win back his family’s luck from the faerie who stole it. Merriman, who now plays the creepiest fiancé ever on Pretty Little Liars, was a perfect lead for DCOMs: mildly talented and attractive without being hot. The Luck of the Irish did a great job of incorporating Irish culture into the movie (although they couldn’t resist the allure of the leprechaun). Adorable lilting brogues were spoken, peat was mentioned, and step dancing was performed, to the delight of everyone.
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Movie: Once
Why It’s Awesomely Irish: This little gem of an indie charmed the pants off of everyone. Set in Dublin, it told the story of an unnamed Irish songwriter and Czech woman. The songwriter fixes vacuums by day, but pours his heart out onto the street by night. The two meet and write an album together, gradually realizing their feelings for each other. From Once came “Falling Slowly”, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song and gave all of us an opportunity to attempt the fantastic harmony and fail miserably. Filmed solely in Ireland for less than $150,000, Once is incredibly authentic, both to the country and to music. Although it lacked leprechauns, it made up for it with thick accents which forced viewers to use subtitles. What’s more Irish than unintelligible speech?
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Movie: Tristan & Isolde
Why It’s Awesomely Irish: Ireland has a rich and extensive history, especially their myths and legends. Loosely based on an ancient Celtic legend, James Franco and Sophia Myles play the star-crossed lovers living in the early Middle Ages. They fall in love as strangers and then separate, but must confront their feelings when Isolde, an Irish princess, is forced to marry Tristan’s king, a monarch of one of the tribes of Britain and Tristan’s good friend. Like all star-crossed lovers, they have trysts in closets and secret meeting places, all under the king’s nose. Inevitably, they ruin everything with their love. As this is a historical romance, the scenery is breathtaking, shots panning over Irish coastlines and craggy mountains. The camera shots panning over Franco aren’t bad either.
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Article by Liz Isenberg

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