Steph Green's gentle comedy drama avoids shamrock-tinted sentimentality to paint an incisive portrait of a family in crisis. Read our review

Before his breakthrough role in Alexander Payne's wry road trip movie Nebraska, American comedian Will Forte made this genteel family comedy drama set in Kerry with a cast including the ever great Maxine Peake.

Forte plays Ted Fielding, a buttoned-up neuro psychologist who arrives in Dingle to observe how Conor Casey (Edward McLiam) and his young family are readjusting to life after he has suffered a stroke.

Dr Ted is a painfully quiet and socially uncomfortable figure who keeps a strict professional distance from both patient and the Casey family. However, he slowly becomes absorbed with the daily routines and challenges presented by Conor’s lingering disability and his dramatic personality changes.

Dr Ted’s research grant provides the family with a much-needed source of income, recompense for the intrusion, but when Ted becomes drawn to mother and wife Vanetia (Peake), the spirited and impossibly optimistic centre of the clan, he is open to compromise.

The set up may be a serious one but the inter-generational cast (Michael Harding plays a curmudgeonly grandfather and the Casey kids are a delight) provides plenty of gentle humour, both with Conor’s childlike behaviour and Ted’s detachment as it turns into a tentative connection with the happy-go-lucky household.

As ever, Kerry looks spectacular and director Steph Green really does make great use of the landscape. Forte is very impressive in what is his dramatic debut, and McLiam is superb as Conor, the one-time rock of the family who teeters on knife edge moods of confusion and child-like joy throughout.

Everyone goes through their own personal voyage of discovery in this life-affirming film but we are left to wonder if the good doctor is the real patient here.

Alan Corr