Evelyn

on December 13, 2002 by Kevin Courrier
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There should be a disclaimer warning viewers that whenever a movie claims to be based on a true story, chances are it's going to ring false. "Evelyn," based on a landmark legal case in Dublin in the '50s, where a single father abandoned by his wife won custody of his three kids, is but another glaring example. Director Bruce Beresford and screenwriter Paul Pender do little to dramatize the controversial legal statutes of the case, which found the father lacking in "the traditional family structure." They instead predictably pluck on the ol' heart-strings.

Desmond Doyle (Pierce Brosnan) is a working-class Irishman who one day finds his life turned upside-down when his wife walks out on him and his children. Along with his widowed father, Desmond tries to care for the children, which include his precocious daughter Evelyn (Sophie Vavasseur). When he loses his job and spends more time at the local pub boozing, Desmond loses his children to a Catholic orphanage. "Evelyn" is about how, with the help of an eclectic legal team, Desmond brings his family home.

Although Bruce Beresford has never been a particularly stylish director, his best work, like "Crimes in the Heart," "Driving Miss Daisy," and "Black Robe," combined the richness of good storytelling with sparkling performances. "Evelyn" is working so hard to be inspiring that the actors start wearing halos before they've even earned them. Pierce Brosnan does shake off the slickness of inhabiting 007, but his performance doesn't match the witty daring he showed in "The Tailor of Panama." His attempt to win back the kids is only to ennoble the character he's playing. The lovely Julianna Margulies also ends up in the hapless role of love interest and cheerleader. "Evelyn" is nothing more than a chip off the old blarney stone. Starring Pierce Brosnam, Aidan Quinn, Julianna Margulies, Sophie Vavasseur, Steven Rea and Alan Bates. Directed by Bruce Beresford. Written by Paul Pender. Produced by Pierce Brosnan, Beau St. Clair and Michael Ohoven. A United Artists release. Drama. Rated PG for thematic material and language. Running time: 94 min. Opens 12/6.

Tags: Pierce Brosnam, Aidan Quinn, Julianna Margulies, Sophie Vavasseur, Steven Rea and Alan Bates. Directed by Bruce Beresford. Written by Paul Pender. Produced by Pierce Brosnan, Beau St. Clair, Michael Ohoven, United Artists, Drama
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