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Dancing at Lughnasa
Feature 95
YEAR: 1998
DIRECTOR: Pat O'Connor    
WRITER: Frank McGuinness based on the play by Brian Friel      
PRODUCER: Noel Pearson         
CAST: Meryl Streep    Cathrine MaCormack    Kathy Bates    Sophie Thompson    Brid Brennan    Michael Gambon   Rhys Ifans
EDITOR: Humphrey Dixon      
DOP: Kenneth MacMillan      

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Set in the small village of Ballybeg in rural Donegal, this film is the story of the five unmarried Mundy sisters in the summer of 1936, when each of their lives changed irreparably. Kate is the nominal head of the sisters and as the local schoolteacher the main breadwinner. Maggie is a freespirit and big-hearted housekeeper, Rose is simpleminded and romantic, while Agnes is her quiet, hardworking keeper. Christina is the youngest and prettiest of the sisters, the unmarried mother of Michael, from whose point of view the story is told.

The film begins when the sisters are awaiting, with pride, the arrival of their brother Jack, who has been a priest in Uganda for the past 25 years. However when Jack arrives, he is frail and disorientated. He has assimilated pagan rituals and to all intents and purposes has alienated his Catholic faith. Kate is soon dismissed from her post in the school, due largely to the activities of the other family members and the household finances are in jeopardy. The money problem is further compounded by the arrival of a knitting factory in the village so that the secondary source of income, money gained from home knitting is also lost. Further conflict is generated in the family when, Rose falls for a local married man, and Michael's father, Gerry, a travelling Welsh man, makes yet another unexpected appearance. The climax of the film comes about when a radio is installed and the whole family spontaneously burst into dance and release their repressed emotions and inhibitions.

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