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Filmfest DC

'The Boys': Irish Fiddle-Faddle

By Kathi Wilcox
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, April 22, 2005; Page C05

There are few surprises in "The Boys and Girl From County Clare," a slight, predictable fable of two brothers, both leaders of traditional Irish bands, who must face each other after a 24-year estrangement when their bands enter an all-Ireland music competition.

The story is set in the late 1960s -- we know this because there are several forced references to the Beatles and a subplot involving a couple of shaggy-wigged hippies. The fact that the bands play traditional Irish ceili music during the same historical window that the Beatles roamed the Earth is supposed to be significant, but that setup doesn't go anywhere.

By the numbers: Shaun Evans and Andrea Corr in "The Boys and Girl From County Clare." (Studio Hamburg Worldwide Pictures Via Filmfest Dc)

The film follows John Joe (Bernard Hill), his younger and sleazier brother, Jimmy (Colm Meaney) -- who left County Clare years ago and now lives in Liverpool (insert Beatles reference) -- and Maisie (Charlotte Bradley), over whom the brothers had the original falling out. Maisie and her daughter, Anne (played by the fetching Andrea Corr, of the Irish pop group the Corrs), play in John Joe's band. Anne doesn't know who her father is, only that he left her mother years ago.

When all the players are thrown together at the competition, decades-old family secrets are revealed, none of which will come as a shock to the viewer -- nor, apparently, to the characters, who barely pause over their pints of lager to contemplate their years of stubborn animosity. The film's big, dramatic questions are all resolved in an orderly, connect-the-dots fashion.

You could argue that the film's saving grace is the spirited ceili music that dominates it. But depending upon one's tolerance for the fiddles, harps and tin whistles of traditional Irish fare, this actually may prove a deterrent. Perhaps it should bear the label: For Eirephiles and Andrea Corr fans only.

The Boys and Girl From County Clare (92 minutes) will be shown tonight at 6:30 and tomorrow night at 9 at the Cineplex Odeon Wisconsin Avenue.

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