Before my first review, I want to take a moment to present my perspective on Christians and film. I am a firm believer that we should always critically evaluate the media that we consume. This means that we should think about the message and content being presented in films, television, and music. This doesn’t restrict, but rather opens the possibilities for what we watch. However, using critical thinking while consuming media does tend to “grow up” our tastes. One can only see the same movie clichés so many times in popular culture before it becomes nauseating. But, the films I will present to you will not always be squeaky-clean or intellectually groundbreaking. Many will be rated R, and to me, that’s not a big deal. Many PG-13 movies are not worth the packaging they come in. What does matter to me is the story, presentation, worldview, and substance of the film. The bar should continually be raised in film, and thankfully, this column will give me the chance to be picky. I will choose the films that got buried underneath the weight of other blockbuster, brain-numbing “flicks” rather than review each new movie regardless of quality. So, enjoy!
Rory O’Shea Was Here
“I hate you for making me watch that!” Not the usual response that I receive after recommending a movie, but I couldn’t help but laugh, since I understood that anger perfectly. Rory O Shea Was Here is one of those frustrating, but good movies. It is a frustrating film because, despite the fact that it takes a genre of films that has been attacked and beat mercilessly by sappy and cliché storylines, it rises above the clichés and the result is a thoroughly compelling film.
Be prepared to roll your eyes when you read the summary: Rory O Shea is a buddy movie whose two main protagonists are both handicapped. Sounds horribly sappy, eh? Well, the film’s first redeeming quality that may make you reevaluate your first instinct is that it is a thoroughly Irish film, which lends itself to treating the heavy subject matter with sometimes painfully dark humor. The first hint of this playful, yet dark humor that holds throughout the film occurs after Rory (James McAvoy) announces after observing the relatively dull home for the disabled where he has been placed, “Is it always this fun here, or is it somebody’s birthday?” Michael, one of the home’s charges (Steven Robertson) is enthralled with Rory’s rebellious disposition, plus the fact that Rory can understand Michael, whose cerebral palsy severely impairs his speech. When Michael asks Rory how he can understand him, Rory replies, “Of course I can understand you. I spent six years in a class sitting next to a kid that makes you sound like Laurence *bleeping* Olivier.”
As the film progresses, we observe these two characters grow and rise above the societal preconceptions that can often limit the independence of people with disabilities. Although I especially related to the humor in this film, since I have a sibling with similar disabilities, the film lends insight into what it is like to either live as, or live with someone with disabilities. It’s not a miserable existence to be pitied; it is a life to be fully lived, and sometimes that means insisting on being arrested, or drinking a Guinness with ‘Da, since it is “me civil right!” Rory O Shea Was Here is rated R for language (it wouldn’t be an Irish film without it), and is now on DVD.