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Cal (John Lynch), a young man on the fringes of the I.R.A., falls in love with Marcella (Dame Helen Mirren), a Catholic woman whose husband, a Protestant policeman, was killed one year earlier by the I.R.A. Out of Ireland’s struggle, a passionate love is born.

This realistic Irish film is a gem of the 80’s


I enjoyed this film very much particularly because of its Irish flavor. John Lynch is incredibly real as an IRA member(not of his own doing) who really hasn’t the stomach for it. Everything about the film is as it should be. Lynch’s long suffering Cal who has helped murder the Protestant husband of the woman he is now infatuated with is wonderfully portrayed. Day to day life of the people is almost like watching a documentary. Cal’s guilt-ridden life couldn’t be more boring from playing his guitar to borrowing tapes at the library to spying on Marcella all the time aware that the UVC will burn him and his “Da” out.

Love the Irish lingo and wit as well as the Uilleann pipes and traditional Irish soundtrack that make it sing. The sensual relationship between Cal and Marcella is bound to take off but you know it is doomed from the start. Two people searching for meaning in a harsh and lonely world. Helen Mirren gives another great performance as the unsatisfied older woman giving in to love. If you want to see a simple film about real people don’t miss this sad, revealing tale.

One of my all time favorites.

not able to get out

‘Cal’ deals with a subject that has been history for quite a long time by now: the violence in Northern Ireland between Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Its plot is about a young Roman Catholic man who gets drawn in the terrorist IRA movement. He does not want that, but is too weak to resist. Of course, after having been involved in some violent acts, he cannot get out anymore. The tragedy is even more accentuated by a simultaneous love affair.

This film just doesn’t show any flaw. First of all, there is the magnificent acting of female lead Helen Mirren. Supported well by plenty of other good acting. The quality of the shooting. The bitter-sweet undertone of its tragic plot throughout its entire length. And, most of all, its setting against an Irish decor that was very actual in 1984.

I happened to be in Dublin that year, and remember well the many sold-out performances of ‘Cal’ in the local cinema’s. As well as the crowds of people queuing outside to get their tickets for the next show.

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