From the director of Driving Miss Daisy comes this compelling, heartwarming and inspiring true story of a father (Pierce Brosnan) who faces impossible odds to keep his family together. Times are tough in Dublin, Ireland. B... more »ut no one has it tougher than Desmond Doyle when his wife runs off and his beloved daughter Evelyn and two young sons are sent to an orphanage by the government.Enlisting the help of loyal friends (Julianna Margulies, Stephen Rea) and a feisty American lawyer (Aidan Quinn), he takes his case to Ireland's Supreme Court in a history-making quest to topple an ironclad law and win back the custody of his children!« less
Leah G. (Leahbelle) from GROVER BEACH, CA Reviewed on 10/11/2014...
I enjoyed this heartfelt film of a father's fight for his children in Ireland. It has a great cast and it was refreshing to see Pierce Brosnan play a different kind of roll.
Jerry S. from OCEANSIDE, CA Reviewed on 9/2/2013...
W0W! Very moving and a True Story. I would recommend it for the whole family.
Cynthia P. (cindypie) from SPRING VALLEY, CA Reviewed on 12/18/2011...
I really enjoyed this movie!
Angie Kathleen L. from OREM, UT Reviewed on 11/7/2009...
This is a rare part for Pierce Bronsan as the devoted parent instead of the suave ladies man. He, as all the actors are superb. The main reason I enjoyed this show--twice--is its reminder that we must fight to maintain our rights. In this true story, Irish family law had been perverted. When a family hits hard times the children are sent to live with the priests or nuns. It is then almost impossible for parents to get the children back. The odds and the stakes are enormous in this historical episode wherein the Irish Constitution is pitted against Irish Family law. The results bless many families.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Touching and Entertaining True Story of a Parent's Love
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 04/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Evelyn" is a dramatization of the Irish Supreme court case which led to sweeping changes in Ireland's child welfare system in the 1950's. Desmond Doyle (Pierce Brosnan) is an unemployed tradesman and father of three young children whose mother has deserted them. In accordance with Ireland's Children's Act, his children are forcibly removed from his custody and placed in Catholic orphanages. Even when Doyle becomes gainfully employed and improves his circumstances tremendously, the State refuses to return the children to his custody without their absent mother's consent. Doyle enlists the aid of three lawyers to help him win his "hopeless" challenge to the well-entrenched principles of family law in Ireland at that time. Together they challenge the constitutionality of the Children's Act before Ireland's Supreme Court. The "Evelyn" of the film's title is Doyle's eldest child whose testimony in court so influenced the outcome of the case.For "Evelyn", Pierce Brosnan goes back to his Irish roots and does a good job in an atypical role for him. Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn and Alan Bates are all convincing as lawyers of very different personalities and experience, who nonetheless find themselves in sympathy with Desmond Doyle and working together on a seemingly impossible task. Sophie Vavasseur, the young actress who plays Evelyn, does so with just the right amount of pluck and innocence. Although "Evelyn" is about a court case, it is not a courtroom drama. There is relatively little time allotted to courtroom scenes. The relationships between the characters and the ways in which they are affected by their unfortunate circumstances are emphasized over the legal intricacies of the case. All in all, "Evelyn " is a touching and entertaining true story of a parent's commitment to his children, whose own willingness to change out of love for them ultimately brought about legal changes that helped many children in similar circumstances."
Evelyn: The Best Film Not Nominated for Any Oscars
B. Emanuele | the USA | 04/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Evelyn" is the movie that Pierce Brosnan promised his fans it would be: heartwarming, touching and full of hope.The movie is based on the true story of Desmond Doyle, who forever changed the laws in Ireland in 1953 by proving that the Children's Act of 1942 worked against the unalienable rights granted to parents and children in the Irish constitution. Of course, liberties with the film have been taken along the way, but the love that Doyle had for his children, and they for him, comes through loud and clear.Kudos goes to Sophie Vavasseur, Hugh McDonagh, and Niall Beagan who play the Doyle children, Sophie, Maurice and Dermott. These children performed their roles very well, and are always a welcome addition to the scenes they are in.Sophie Vavasseur could have played up being cute, or played up being a brat with the nuns, but she, like the adults around her, goes for natural style. She plays Evelyn as a real child, and in doing so, makes that character all the more real to the audience.Credit too goes to the adults around them, who allowed these kids to be actors, without fear of the scenes being stolen by them. And speaking of those adults:The Catholic Church: My one quibble with this film is how the Christian Brothers are portrayed. One could walk away from this film thinking that the Christian Brothers were good and the nuns were bad. Not so, they all stunk. Never the less, the interaction at the convent, rings true of behavior by those employed by the church then, and sadly, now.Frank Kelly: Playing Henry Doyle, the father of Desmond and grandfather to the children, Kelly does an excellent job capturing the heart of man who loves his family dearly and does what he can to support all of them, while he is with them, and while he is not.Eileen Colgan: She had the difficult task of playing the children's maternal grandmother. She is witchy enough in the beginning, but as she sees how her actions have truly hurt her grandchildren, she supports Desmond in his fight to get the children back.Julianna Margulies: As Bernadette, Ms. Margulies has to convince the audience that a strong woman ahead of her time would be a attracted to a man like Desmond Doyle. And she does so as we watch her see through the drinking and brawling to the beautiful soul inside of Desi.Alan Bates: If you want a scene-stealer, here he is. With his commanding presence, quick wit, and strong sense of character, Bates is Tom Connolly, former Rugby star, and now star of the courtroom. His last scene, during the justice's "However" speech, is a study in perfect facial and body expressions.Stephen Rea: Finally, Mr. Rea gets to dress up, look sharp, and play sharp as Michael Beattie, the solicitor who first takes on the Doyle case. He is properly reserved and hopeful at the same time, anxious, as everyone was in the fifties to break the hold of the State and the Church in 1950's Ireland.Aidian Quinn: Mr. Quinn received less than stellar reviews for his performance but frankly, I don't know why. Some critics say they don't see his attraction to Bernadette, and yet, it is clear to me by the little gifts he brings her and the smiles he bestows upon her, that he is smitten. It is equally easy to see that his character, Nick Barron, is still pained by the loss of his children, and will put aside his jealously of Doyle to help the man win his children back.And last but by no stretch of the imagination least: Pierce Brosnan.Oscar, thy name should have been Brosnan.This is not James Bond, this not Thomas Crown, and it sure as hell isn't Remington Steele. For some, that might be a problem. For Brosnan fans it won't be. The quiet strength that Desmond Doyle possessed is clearly displayed here, in fine moments of torture and tears. It is not just sadness in the tears of Desi as he cuts up the family photos and tosses them into the fire; it's disappointment in his wife and himself. When he brawls with the priest, we know it is not the priest he hates; it's the church. When he looks at Bernadette, we see a man coming alive again. After Evelyn points out the "Angel Rays" to her father, Desi doesn't patronize her; his quiet faith in God and his own earth Father, allows him to believe that he has friends in heaven and all is not lost. When Desmond and Nick have their discussion on the topic of Bernadette, and each find out the offers the other has made to the lovely woman, Desmond knows he doesn't stand a chance, but that doesn't make him think about changing lawyers. He knows he needs Nick to win his case, and he puts his children first.Mr. Brosnan communicates all these moments with the body language and the natural tones of voice that we use to communicate. These tools Mr. Brosnan is often denied when he plays the role of Bond, but as Doyle, Brosnan can allow his character to fall out of love and back again, to cry, to laugh, and yes, even to sing, without fear of his cover being blown. Just as much as James Bond ever did, Desmond Doyle changed the world.There are no over the top moments of bravura acting from Mr. Brosnan. Rather the audience is treated to the natural anger and strength that comes when a parent must fight for his children. And that is precisely how those scenes should be played. We are comforted by these emotions we see every day in people who love their families.If you want to see Pierce Brosnan in action movies, don't see this movie. If you want to see Pierce Brosnan in an academy award worthy performance, see "Evelyn.""
A truly beautiful film
Maggie Bodek | New Orleans, LA | 07/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Pierce Brosnan proves once and for all that he is not just eye candy, but a truly gifted actor. The film itself is flawless. Every performance is meticulously drawn out by Beresford's masterful directing. The story is factually based heart-wrenching saga of a father's love for his children and how he and a small band of legal warriors changed the child advocacy laws in Ireland. My biggest question is why there was no market for this wonderful film. I don't think it even appeared in my city. To go through the stellar performances one by one with a suitable comment might take too long.
Aiden Quinn, Julianna Margulies, Stephen Rea, John Lynch and the ever brilliant Alan Bates are all marvelous. Sophie Vavasseur as the precious EVELYN is a joy. I would never have heard of this film had I not watched a Brosnan interview. Great film making is so often passed over by glitzy Hollywood fare. The true art of film is found in beautiful quiet films like this one."
Angel Rays, St. Judes and the Miracle of Justice.
Themis-Athena | from somewhere between California and Germany | 02/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ever since the constitutional reform of 1936, the Catholic Church and the Irish state have been inexorably linked; more so than in almost any other western society. A substantial part of Irish legislation - particularly, Irish family law - was (and partly, still is) directly based on Catholic doctrine: prohibiting divorce and abortion; and until 1953, prohibiting a single father from bringing up his children without the mother's consent, thus in essence committing every motherless child to church orphanages until age 16. This changed only when the Irish Supreme Court declared the respective sections of the Children's Act unconstitutional - a landmark decision because for the first time the ties between church and state were broken, and for the first time an Irish statute had been declared unconstitutional at all. "Evelyn" tells the story of the man whose civil action made this decision come about.
Desmond Doyle was a blue-collar Dublin painter and decorator, left to take care of his daughter Evelyn and her brothers alone after his wife had run away with another man. Jobless, penniless and more given to drowning his sorrows in Guinness than addressing them head-on, he was ill-suited for the task, and it didn't take long for church and state to step in and decree that, under prevalent law, Evelyn and her brothers were to be committed to Catholic orphanage schools. Certain that he wouldn't be able to afford a lawyer - and having been told that his case was hopeless anyway - Doyle unsuccessfully tried to regain his children by other means, his methods of choice being bullying and abduction. Eventually he met Irish American attorney Nick Barron, who was willing to take on Doyle's case pro bono, together with his Dublin colleagues Michael Beattie and Tom Connolly, Irish rugby-idol-turned-family-law-expert, whose counsel would prove instrumental both in securing public support for Doyle's case and in drafting Barron's victorious argument.
Written by Paul Pender, who had met the real Evelyn Doyle at a conference, the movie's screenplay made its way onto the desk of Pierce Brosnan, who almost immediately decided to take it on, on a low budget basis - fortunately so, as the project is patently unfit for a large, Hollywood-style production - and soon also decided to play the role of Desmond Doyle. And what at first sight may look like a surprising choice for the actor so much better known for roles like James Bond and Remington Steele was in fact a close match for Brosnan, who grew up in the 1950s' Ireland and intimately knows the ins and outs of Catholic schools, which, judging by his observations on the commentary track, obviously left a profound mark; bitter aftertaste rather than cozy memories of happy days gone by.
Brosnan and co-producer Beau St. Clair were able to secure a perfect and, particularly considering the project's overall size, rather high-profile cast, with Aidan Quinn starring as Nick Barron, Stephen Rea as Michael Beattie, the great Alan Bates in one of his last-ever roles as the flawed but truly grand Tom Connolly (who declares whiskey a more reliable companion than God, but brings rosary beads to the court hearing "to count the scores," and who sees hope even in the most desperate "St. Judes," named for the patron saint of hopeless cases); Julianna Margulies, with as flawless an Irish accent as the rest of the cast, as Beattie's sister Bernadette, who is courted by both Doyle and Barron (guess who gets the girl ... and nothing against Pierce Brosnan, but I'd so wish for Quinn to luck out once only, too!), the eminently likeable Frank Kelly as Desmond Doyle's father, John Lynch as senior government counsel Wolfe - and young Sophie Vavasseur in the title role: a true find, with an instant charm and screen presence making it almost unbelievable that she had never acted before.
Thanks to the subtle performances given by all of its actors, as well as Bruce Beresford's admirable and restrained direction, "Evelyn" is a gentle and despite its serious subject tremendously uplifting film, with a perfect blend of passion, poetry and tender humor, staying with you long after the end credits have run. Although it occasionally scrapes by cliche just so (e.g., was it really necessary to expressly bring up "David vs. Goliath" in a movie whose entire premise is clearly based on this very concept?), its imagery is the most powerful when expressed from Evelyn's point of view: her shock at seeing her mother drive off with a stranger, her anger at witnessing a nun lashing out at a girl for not knowing her catechism ... and her unshakeable faith in her grandfather, who has explained to her, when taking her to her convent school, that the sun rays breaking through the clouds are "angel rays," sent by her guardian angel as a token of protection; and whose presence she feels, even after he has died of a heart attack, whenever she sees the sun coming through the gray Irish winter sky. - At one point during the production, it looked like the movie was going to have to live without a music score - that is, apart from the Irish songs performed live by Frank Kelly (who is also a trained violinist) and Pierce Brosnan (another "first" for him, and certainly one that will delight many of his fans), as part of the Doyles' pub music venture. But fortunately a full soundtrack was ensured eventually, and Stephen Endelman's score - perfectly complimented by Gemma Hayes's "Angel Rays" and Van Morrison's "Sitting on Top of the World" - greatly adds to the movie's lyrical quality. This is one of the year 2002's true cinematic "finds"; a small, quietly shining gem. Bravo, Messrs. Brosnan, Beresford & Co.! I hope Irish Dreamtime Productions will give us more films like this in the future ... and when sun rays break through a cloudy sky, I will never again look at them the way I used to.
Also recommended: Tea and Green Ribbons: Evelyn's Story The Magdalene Sisters Dancing at Lughnasa Moral Monopoly: The Rise and Fall of the Catholic Church in Modern Ireland Mother Ireland: A Memoir The Angela's Ashes/'Tis Boxed Set"
A heartwarming tale, told with elegant restraint
Joanna Daneman | Middletown, DE USA | 12/26/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Evelyn, daughter of working-class Desmond Doyle, wrote the story of her father and pushed hard to have it filmed. Brosnan took on the project as a small, independent film, and I think he did justice to the story of Desmond, Evelyn and her two brothers. Desmond Doyle is an out-of-work house painter whose wife abandons him and their family of three children. Due to the peculiarities of Irish law back in 1953, a single parent would lose the right to raise the kids, and Desmond fights an uphill battle against Church and State to regain his family. The children are packed off to orphanages, and Desmond desperately tries to find a barrister willing and able to challenge the law.Aidan Quinn, Julianna Margulies, Alan Bates and child actress Sophia Vavasseur as Evelyn are a marvelous cast, well-directed by Bruce Beresford. Paul Pender's screenplay holds down the pathos yet tells the story with much emotion. Highly recommended--a nicely made film. The extras on the DVD are not much (the story behind the story is not about the family but about how the film was made and that's about all there really is extra on this DVD.)"