'Dancing at Lughnasa'
STARRING Meryl Streep, Michael Gambon, Rhys Ifans, Brid Brennan, Sophie Thompson, Kathy Burke
DIRECTED BY Pat O’Connor
Meryl Streep doing an accent? Who knew? The dialectically adept thespian plays a prim schoolteacher in the film adaptation of Brian Friel’s 1991 Tony award-winning play, which follows five lonely sisters living a hardscrabble life in rural Ireland. The women’s world is shaken by the appearance of their brother (Gambon), a priest who left for an African mission a conquering hero but returns a broken man. Says O’Connor, ”It’s about integrity, courage, decency, and how these things sometimes aren’t enough for survival.” Streep, who calls Lughnasa ”a tiny story with epic reverberations,” took Irish dancing lessons for a month to prepare for the scene in which the sisters enjoy a cathartic dance session. ”I’d taken this quite seriously,” she says. ”Then I found out the others just watched Riverdance.” (Nov. 13)
THE LOWDOWN The play’s stellar reputation combined with Streep’s star power should make Lughnasa an art-house achiever.