Volume 92, Issue 61

Friday, January 15, 1999

intruder alert


The Concrete Beat

Finding themselves in The Grand scheme of things

Waking to a devine comedy about life

Have no fear, Ben is here

Canadian rockers fly By Divine Right

Rabbits stray from home

Celebrity Sightings


Waking to a devine comedy about life

Anthony Turow
Gazette Staff

Waking Ned Devine is a comedy about fraud, deception and greed. It is also heart-warming, life affirming and genuinely sweet.

What accounts for this paradox? Well the film, written and directed by Kirk Jones, never strives to manipulate, turning a sharper focus on its characters as opposed to its outrageous situations.

The film centres around a lottery jackpot won but unclaimed by someone in a wee Irish hamlet. Two enterprising seniors, Jackie O'Shea (Ian Bannen) and Michael O'Sullivan (David Kelley), decide to take it upon themselves to find this newfound millionaire in hopes of becoming friends so they can share the jackpot. When they finally locate the reclusive old winner – Ned Devine – they find him dead of shock in front of the television, lottery ticket clutched in his cold dead hand.

What follows are attempts by Jackie and Michael to try and cash the ticket for themselves – everything from impersonating the dead to dirt-biking around the Irish countryside stark naked, just in order to keep their half-baked plan from falling apart at the seams.

Bannen's and O'Sullivan's performances are the glue holding Waking Ned Devine together. They avoid what could have become cliches of lotto obsessed pensioners by tackling their roles with dignity. They never seem pathetic or overtly greedy, just in need of some excitement in a place where everybody knows everybody's business and they freely exchange this information over pints at the pub. In the midst of all their crazy scheming they still manage to keep their characters believable, thereby giving more weight to the lunacy surrounding them.

This lunacy, however, is not by any stretch of the imagination manufactured in a predictable way, but unfolds plausibly with respect to the circumstances. Humour is derived as much from the little, everyday experiences, as it is from the handful of big gags. The eccentric townsfolk – the senile shopkeeper, amorous spinster and the demonic invalid, in particular – help colour the town with a melange of different characters who help to create a well realized vision of a quirky, at ease community.

This film is the perfect diversion for a cold winter night. Visually, the gorgeous cinematography captures the Isle of Man, with its picturesque vistas in all their majesty and hamlet life in all its quaint coziness. Emotionally it is warm, so even the most hardened cynic shall be beaming with a smile upon exit from the theatre.

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