By Admin | April 14, 2000

“The Closer You Get” isn’t a bad title for this delightful Irish comedy, although “The Forest for the Trees” might be an even better one. The men of Donegal, a rugged wind and rain-swept fishing hamlet that clings to Ireland’s Atlantic shore, have become disenchanted with the romantic prospects, or lack thereof, in their lonely burg. Inspired by the vision of Bo Derick cavorting about a beach in an accidental screening of “10,” (mistakenly sent instead of “The Ten Commandments” to their church’s bi-weekly film screening), this less than alluring band of sheep herders, farmers, and shop-keepers gets the bright idea to advertise for some American mail-order brides. Led by their clueless but charismatic butcher Kieran O’Donnagh (Ian Hart), the men gather at the local pub and draft a disastrously misguided ad to run in the Miami Herald. Then they eagerly await the American beauties’ arrival, undergoing an assortment of not always flattering transformations in the meantime. The women, meanwhile, are at first amused then insulted by this slight and eventually decide to fight back. Kate (Nicah Cusack), the wife of the philandering pub owner, and Siobahn (Cathleen Bradley), Kiernan’s deceptively attractive assistant, organize a tongue-in-cheek version of their men’s crusade…while subtly nursing unspoken romances of their own: Kate knows Siobahn and Kieran are meant for each other, if they don’t chop each other up first with their meat cleavers, while Kieran’s older brother Ian (Sean McGulley) harbors deep, and reciprocated, feelings for Kate. When Siobahn, in denial, invites a dashing group of fishermen — who also happen to be Spanish Flamenco musicians and dancers — to Donegal’s annual dance, the same dance where Kieran’s crew hoped to court their future American mates, sparks fly as the guys finally realize that by searching across the ocean, they just might be looking in the wrong place. This utterly enjoyable film will simply charm your socks off. If the Irish brogues and harsh craggy beauty of the Irish coast don’t win you over, Donegal’s cast of unforgettable townspeople will. While the residents pair off and fight their individual romantic battles of the sexes in hand to hand combat, the viewer gradually falls in love with a whole town full of colorful, likable and believable folks. Witty and well-written by William Ivory, this heartwarming picture from Aileen Ritchie puts a fresh comic spin on one of the oldest of cliches; allowing us to look on as the villagers gradually realize that there’s a forest full of attractive trees right in their own backyards.

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