Dancing At Lughnasa
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: +2 1/2

Meryl Streep gives another Oscar quality performance in DANCING AT LUGHNASA, based on a critically acclaimed play. The story of five single sisters living together in a small village in Ireland in 1936 is narrated by Michael (Darrell Johnston), the son of one of the sisters. The Mundy sisters are excited about the eminent return of their only brother, Father Jack (Michael Gambon). He has been serving as a missionary in Africa for many years. Kate (Streep), a stern schoolteacher, is the family's chief breadwinner, while Agnes (Brid Brennan) manages the house. Agnes is particularly close to child-like Rose (Sophie Thompson), the youngest sister, who is mentally retarded. Maggie (Kathy Burke) is funny and fun loving, and Christina (Catherine McComack) is the prettiest and the mother of young Michael. The sudden arrival of Michael's father (Rhys Ifans) upsets everyone except Christina and a son who has never seen his dad. As their financial situation takes a sudden nosedive, the close family begins to disintegrate. The sisters' love of Irish folk dancing provides the film's only joyful scenes. Dancing at Lughnasa is not for everyone, but those who appreciate thought-provoking characters and top-notch acting will not be disappointed.

Father Jack's return to Ireland becomes a major letdown for his sisters, who expect him to resume leadership in the community and family. Instead, the mentally disturbed old man practices pagan rituals and talks endlessly of African witch doctors. His behavior is not condoned, but his sisters realize he is ill. Pagan rituals performed by gypsies up in the hills include jumping through fire. In that scene, a frightened Rose goes with a young man who takes part in the strange gypsy festivities. He also gets drunk, takes her out in a boat and threatens to drown her when she resists his advances. Two profanities and three mild crudities are the film's only crude language. Because Christina never married Michael's father, he must sleep in the barn during his stay. She does meet him out there, but it is not clear whether they have sex or not. In spite of an absent dad, Michael has a wonderful childhood, and his four aunts dote over him. Although Christina cares deeply about her son's father, she knows he will never keep the promises he makes to his son. Dancing at Lughnasa's adult themes makes it appropriate for mature audiences only.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics, 550 Madison Avenue, 8th Flr., NY, NY 10022

Crude Language: Few (3) times-Mild
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: Few (2) times-Regular (Mother of God 1, C 1)
Violence: Few times-Moderate (man frighten girls with threats of drowning her; pagan rituals of jumping through fire)
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Man tries to seduce young girl
Drug Abuse: Few times (gypsies drink, man gets drunk; smoking)
Other: Pagan rituals of gypsies, priest confuses witchcraft with religion; woman's love affair not condoned
Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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