May 07, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

This Is My Father

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea, John Cusack
director
Paul Quinn
genre
Drama
We gave it a B-

Each unhappy family in Irish memoir movies is unhappy in its own way: Some muck about in peat bogs, accompanied by a fiddle-and-flute soundtrack; others endure sermons by priests yawping about the evils of interferin’ with yerself, accompanied by a flute-and-fiddle soundtrack. ”This Is My Father,” a tremulous bit of post-”Angela’s Ashes” cinder raking, has both. (Stephen Rea purses the bejaysus out of his lips as a man of the cloth.) It also has two doomed lovers — doomed for reasons slightly beyond comprehension, but never mind, because the lass (Moya Farrelly) is rosy-cheeked and the lad is mumbly-shy and played by Aidan Quinn.

The cozily mournful drama is a brotherly production: Paul Quinn wrote and directed, and Declan Quinn provided the classically classy cinematography that makes each peat clod a thing of beauty. The story toggles between present-day Ireland, where a gloomy Chicago schoolteacher (James Caan) goes to learn about the father he never knew, and the 1930s, when everything was greener, simpler, sadder, and of more interest to audiences who can’t get enough of them cold Hibernian ashes.

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