The assisted living home in Dublin, known as the Carrigmore Home for the Disabled, contains a cross-section of impairments, from mild to the barely functional. In the case of Michael Connolly (Steven Robertson), who has grown up there, his cerebral palsy binds him to a wheelchair and to a speech impediment that makes verbal communication all but impossible.
But sometimes wonders occur, as in the case of Rory O'Shea's arrival on the scene. O'Shea (James McAvoy) is also bound to a wheel chair. What he lacks in motor ability he makes up for with a sprightly mind, a quick wit, and a testy personality. Plus, he has no problem understanding Michael's every word. The symbiotic tie between this pair is immediate.
While Michael is one to accept his destiny, and to make the most of it, O'Shea is crawling out of his skin to expand the possible. His purpose in life appears to be the effort to make people realize that his physical limitations do not represent his true identity. With his rebellious and flinty attitude, his influence on Michael might not add up to mutual benefit, but Michael proves mature enough to maintain his own values and desires and to react in his own way to the alien world that O'Shea all but dumps on him.
After a bold adventure to a nightclub, during which the wheelchair pair meet ladies of the night, get into a scrap, and fall in love with blond, lovely Siobhan (Romola Garai), they aren't inclined to withdraw to the controlled sedentary life that the institution (and their conditions) demands. O'Shea proposes that they leave it for their own lives of independence and, to the consternation of supervisor Eileen (Brenda Fricker -- a mild alternative to Nurse Ratched of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), they manage to shame Michael's powerful father into providing the means. Once they secure the state-required permissions, they track Siobhan down at her scuz job in a supermarket and convince her to take them on as caregiver. Her beautiful and warm presence, however, only emphasizes their disabilities. With admirable integrity to reality, her proximity arouses emotions that can't be returned nor fulfilled.
The manner in which director Damien O'Donnell and writer Jeffrey Caine deal with this issue is a praiseworthy effort to abstain from drowning us in a sea of sentimentality, wisely keeping the emotional elements grounded in the world as we know it. Further to the good, the elements of casting and performance elevate the narrowly focused drama above that of the run-of-the-mill disability-of-the-month movie.
Spiky-haired, handsome McAvoy shows us how to be audacious and magnetic while rooted to a chair. Garai is a composite of grace and sensitivity, with a beauty that rises from an empathetic soul. Think of a blending of Drew Barrymore and Maria Bello -- Garai's an actress to watch. Fricker, as almost always, is a class act and richer in nuance and humanity than the stereotype of the stern administrator.
There is sorrow here but, at the end, one feels agreeable to having this obscure corner of society brought engagingly, if somewhat painfully, to our attention.
The DVD includes deleted scenes and an alternate ending.
Aka Inside I'm Dancing.
He was here, too.
Run time: 104 mins
In Theaters: Friday 15th October 2004
Distributed by: Focus Features
Production compaines: WT²
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 49%
Fresh: 34 Rotten: 35
IMDB: 7.9 / 10
Director: Damien O'Donnell
Screenwriter: Jeffrey Caine
Starring: James McAvoy as Rory O'Shea, Romola Garai as Siobhan, Steven Robertson as Michael Connolly, Alan King as Tommy, Brenda Fricker as Eileen, Ruth McCabe as Annie, Anna Healy as Alice, Tom Hickey as Con O'Shea
Like an antidote to vacuous blockbusters, this intelligent, thoughtful drama packs more intensity into a...
This biopic gallops through the career of groundbreaking gangsta rappers N.W.A, working its way through...
Basically the perfect summer movie, this lightweight drama has a great-looking cast and plenty of...
As the ghoul from the 2012 horror hit stalks a new family, this sequel's sharply...
After setting the scene with vivid characters and some insightful interaction, the plot of this...
Both the characters and the tone have been updated as a new generation of Grizwolds...
Amy Schumer makes her big screen debut with a script that feels like a much-extended...
Adopting a deliciously groovy vibe, Guy Ritchie turns the iconic 1960s TV spy series into...