Directed by Bruce Beresford, starring Pierce Brosnan, Aidan Quinn, Julianna Margulies, Alan Bates, Stephen Rea, Sophie Vavasseur, Frank Kelly.
It's a far cry from saving the world from crazed madmen. In sentimental family drama 'Evelyn' Pierce Brosnan, AKA James Bond, takes on the Irish constitution without a bang or a bullet in sight. Set in Dublin, 'Evelyn' is a (very) loose dramatisation of a 1953 court case that restricted the power of the Catholic Church to separate children from their families.
Brosnan plays down-on-his-luck decorator Desmond Doyle who loses his daughter, Evelyn (Vavasseur) and two little boys to Catholic orphanages when his wife runs off to Australia. Told by a judge that this is only a temporary measure, Doyle gives up the drink, gets a job and applies to have his children returned home. When the state refuses, he vows to get them back, no matter what. Enlisting the help of visiting American lawyer Nick (Quinn), solicitor Michael (Rea) and drunken but brilliant barrister Tom (Bates), Doyle mounts a campaign that goes all the way to the Irish Supreme Court - and even manages to snag Julianna Margulies' Irish barmaid along the way.
'Evelyn' is at its best during the snappy scenes between Desmond, Nick, Michael and Tom as they prepare to go up against the Irish government, constitution and Catholic Church but these are swamped by far too many episodes of mawkish sentimentality. A simple, moving story of one man's battle for his children is sugared beyond belief by heavyhanded scriptwriter Paul Pender and his romanticised version of Ireland. Frank Kelly is even wheeled out to play Evelyn's stage-Irish grandfather, complete with fiddle, Guinness and whimsical notions of guardian angels being present in sunbeams.
Despite drunkenness and despair, Pierce Brosnan is effortlessly charming - he even manages respectable renditions of a couple of bar room ballads - although it has to be said that, despite his roots, his Irish accent is rather unstable. Usual suspects Stephen Rea and Aidan Quinn stroll effortlessly through the whole undertaking and Alan Bates hams it up to his heart's content as the former rugby player turned drunk.
The deciding courtroom scene is ridiculously drawn out as director Bruce Beresford goes for a tear-jerking finale which is more, unintentionally, comic than poignant. There's even a perfect white Christmas to round the whole saccharine confection off.
It could have been powerful, but the feelgood 'Evelyn' is a long way from the anger of Peter Mullan's 'The Magdalene Sisters'. Strictly for those who see Ireland through green-tinted lenses.