Rory O'Shea Was Here Movie Review

One way to deal with disability is courageously but, as this film and its principal character demonstrate, when splashy bravura is used to mask anger, pain and unacceptance, courage may not be what's being expressed. Of course, one can always point out that the fully-abled are in no position to know or to judge the cries for help that come from being confined for life to a wheelchair. That aside, the title character of the drama takes self-assertion dangerously close to the realm of self-destruction.

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.

Cast & Crew

Director : Damien O'Donnell


Rory O'Shea Was Here Rating

" Weak "

Rating: R, 2004


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