The Austin Chronicle

The Snapper

Directed by Stephen Frears. Starring Tina Kellegher, Colm Meaney, Ruth Mccabe, Colm O'Byrne, Eanna Macliam, Ciara Duffy.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 25, 1994

Based upon the second volume of Roddy Doyle's working class Irish trilogy (the first book was adapted by Alan Parker in The Commitments), director Frears returns to his Dublin roots in this tale of the Curley family and what happens when it turns out that daughter Sharon (Kellegher) is going to have “a snapper.” That is to say, a baby. The result of a drunken groping on the hood of a Ford Cortina, Sharon barely remembers who it was that put her in the family way. To her friends and family, she insists the “da” is no one they know. The truth is, however, less palatable. Neighbor George (Pat Laffan), married and with a daughter Sharon's age, boasts jokingly down at the local pub that Sharon “was a hell of a ride.” Before long, she's not only a hell of a ride, but also the local pariah, despite her newfound insistence that it wasn't old George, but, instead, a Spanish sailor. Meanwhile, Sharon's dad Dessie (Meaney) and mum Kay (McCabe) try to keep the family in line all the while wondering half-heartedly what the neighbors will say. Frears and screenwriter Doyle keep things bubbling along with equal amounts of melodrama (while at the market, Sharon is taunted by kids who run up to her and yell, “hey, slut!”) and humor (pregnant and fit to burst, she nevertheless finds time to go out and get pissed with her mates). As in Parker's The Commitments, small, transitory touches elicit the largest emotional responses: Frears paints a vivid picture of the Curleys as a loving household trying to keep it all together in the face of this rather serious crisis. As always, Colm Meaney is brilliant, rough-hewn and bewildered by the changes going on around him, but determined to figure it all out and help his daughter as much a possible. Ruth McCabe, as the Curley matriarch, is likewise excellent, sagely standing watch over her clan while smiling amusedly at her husband's fumbling attempts to bond with their daughter. There's not as much bombast here as there was in Parker's Commitments, but then Frears is an entirely different kind of director. He prefers the ensemble to the character study, and here he does a wonderful job of it.

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