Blu-ray: Maeve (1981)
Pat Murphy’s first film was her most experimental. Set during the troubles in Ireland it tells the story of Catholic girl Maeve Sweeney (Mary Jackson), a young Belfast woman who lives in London and returns to the family home for a visit.
The film zips back and too though time and Maeve’s hairstyle changes as we see key moments throughout her life. The story is centered around conversations between Maeve and different characters with the odd soliloquy by her father Martin (Mark Mullholland).
It’s through these conversations we can identify with the central characters viewpoint; Maeve the feminist who left Ireland after being beaten by soldiers, her sister, Roisin (Brid Brennan) who is destined to marry and have a ‘conventional’ life and her on/off boyfriend, Liam (John Keegan), a fervent Republican.
This is a very wordy ‘intelligent’ film much lauded by film critics. However I must admit it left me as cold as the dialogue in it. Having experienced the political situation in Northern Ireland myself as a child, the only character I recognised was Maeve’s sister and I only engaged with the film during its ‘lighter’ moments.
Mary Jackson plays Maeve like a stone, even during her more emotional scenes her acting is one dimensional (unlike Brid Brennan who gives a great impassioned performance). I also found the ‘naked sisters lounging around’ scenes titillating rather than empowering (I don’t know of any sisters who spend their evenings naked in each others company).
I did feel this was more of a ‘play for today’ that took itself VERY seriously and would have worked a lot better if the central character was a better actor.
- Remastered in 2K by the BFI
- Being a Woman is a Nationality – a Video Essay on Maeve (2021, 14 mins): filmmaker Chris O’Neill explores Maeve’s themes of feminism, republicanism and nationality in this new video essay
- Irish Cinema – Ourselves Alone? (1996, 51 mins): Why have the most enduring celluloid images of Ireland been made by foreign filmmakers? That’s the core of this documentary by Donald Taylor Black – showing the struggle of Irish people to create an Irish cinema. Featuring interviews with major figures including Neil Jordan, Bob Quinn, Jim Sheridan, Pat Murphy and Roddy Doyle
- Limited edition with a booklet featuring a new discussion on the film between Pat Murphy, John Davies and Robert Smith and a new essay by Emmie McFadden.
Maeve is released 24th May 2021.