Picks and Pans Review: Some Mother's Son
The least didactic and most compassionate of the movies in recent years that have tried to shed light on the continuing "troubles" in Northern Ireland, this film humanizes the politics by focusing on two Irish Catholic mothers whose sons are arrested for bombings and participate in a prison hunger strike protesting occupying British troops.
While it is directed and cowritten by Terry George, who wrote the more polemical In the Name of the Father, this movie doesn't demonize the British (except in the case of Tim Woodward, who plays London's bigoted envoy in Dublin). Instead, George involves the audience in the wrenching choice faced by mothers Flanagan and Mirren: Do they support their sons' political course to starvation or encourage prison officials to save their boys' lives by force-feeding them?
The earthy Flanagan, as a hard-core IRA mom who always expected son O'Hara to be a casualty of Northern Ireland's chronic unrest, suggests a she-bear defending her cub. By contrast, the more austere Mirren, as a schoolteacher whose son, Gillen, gets involved in the struggle inadvertently, artfully plays the mother who is more inclined to reason. If the conclusion is shamelessly emotional, its sentiment seems nonetheless to have come from the heart. (R)