Róise & Frank: Older Critics Reviews Set in the heart of rural Ireland, in a seaside town, Mo Ghrá Buan follows the story of recently widowed Róise Uí Mheadhra in the aftermath of her husband, Frank’s passing two years prior. Grief-stricken, Róise has distances herself from the world around her and those dearest to her. A routine phone call to her late husband’s phone and lack of self care consume her during these long, lonely days. Change is on the horizon for Róise when a stray dog follows her every move. Is it uncanny, the interest shown by the dog in Frank’s possessions, or is there a message behind it all? Róise decides to stop resisting the dog and is led to places of significance to her and her late husband. The reincarnation of her husband to this small pet is heart-warming to Róise, even if it is at the expense of her credibility in her small town. Year: 2021 Runtime: 85 minutes Language: Gaelige (English Subtitles) Country: Ireland Director: Peter Murphy and Rachel Moriarty Cast: Bríd Ní Neachtain, Cillian O'Gairbhi, Lorcan Cranitch, Ruadhán de Faoite Review by Alice Owens A funny, sad, happy, film packed with hilarious and dramatic moments that can be enjoyed equally by adults and children. The script is well crafted. The quick scene changes, clever dialogue, lively humour with laugh-out-loud moments, and several distinctive character roles make for a diverse, fast moving and absorbing story with a feel good factor. This film exhibits much about life and the foibles, qualities and emotions of the characters, with humour, hilarity and absurdity; and deals with a string of feelings, from grief, loneliness, greed, bullying and timidity, to compassion, friendship and how the love and trust in a small dog can grow confidence and happiness. The scenes with the young boy and the dog are delightful. Bríd Ní Neachtain plays Róise with great sensitivity. Her quiet restrain is realistic and convincing. Alan’s (Cillian O’Gairbhi) embarrassment at his mother’s delusions is palpable. His comic timing is impeccable. The viewer can almost see the brain of the conniving Donncha (Lorcan Cranitch) ticking over as he plots and schemes how he can get rid of the dog, to woo Róise. In the end the tables turn surprisingly. At the heart of this little gem is the Irish national sport, hurling; and like the fastest field game in the world, the pace is brisk, with highs and lows, twists and turns, excitement and exhilaration. Altogether very entertaining and uplifting. Review by Glenda Cimino The film is set and shot in a small Irish-speaking community in An Rinn Gaeltacht, Co. Waterford, and it is filmed in Irish with English subtitles. Roise and Frank is the heartwarming story of a woman, Róise [Bríd Ní Neachtain] who is depressed and withdrawn from others, including her son Alan[Cillian Ó Gairbhí]. She is still grieving for her husband, Frank, who died suddenly two years before. She rings his phone every morning just to hear his voice on the answering machine. Frank was not only the love of her life and father of Alan, now a local doctor, but also a key member of the community and the coach of the under-13s hurling team. One day a stray dog [Barley] appears in her yard and won't be driven away. She is initially upset when the dog runs into the house and sits in the late Frank's chair, but she begins to warm toward the apparent stray as she notices uncanny parallels to Frank's interests and habits. Could it be that Frank has returned to her in the body of a dog, and will even continue his interest in coaching the young hurling team? She is sure the dog is Frank, and lets everyone know it. She calls the dog 'Frank,' and sets him a place at the table and even lets him sleep in her bed, to the dismay of Alan. Most people tolerantly accept, or pretend to, that the dog is Frank. Alan, too, gradually goes along with Roise's opinion as the dog's presence has clearly rejuvenated her and got her interested in living again. Her unpleasant and scheming neighbour, Donncha [Lorcan Cranitch] is itching to start a relationship with the widow Roise, but Frank [the dog] objects. Donncha is really the villain of the piece, which he plays perfectly, and he begins to scheme how to get rid of Frank. In a subplot, a young boy, Maidhchi [apparently played by Ruadhán de Faoites though there is no information about him] who dreams of being on the under-13s hurling team but doesn't think he is good enough, finds 'Frank' more than willing to practice with him and up his game every morning before his school bus arrives, and the boy, fulfilling his dream with Frank's help, is invited to join the team. Frank becomes like a mascot whose presence alone seems to be good luck as the team move from losers to winners. The two coaches for the team are very funny in their own roles, a case of smaller roles not meaning smaller actors. The film was written and directed by Rachael Moriarty and Stephen Murphy, who became friends and collaborators in college. They made a few shorts, and then embarked on their first feature film, Traders, a 2015 award-winning science fiction/fantasy thriller about a world in which former businessmen down on their luck, kill each other for money. All in all, 'Roisin and Frank' was an ambitious project, and it succeeds admirably, perhaps despite the odds. Review by Peter Clarke This film should not have worked, given W C Fields caveat “never work with children or animals in film”. But it does extraordinarily well. It is a film in Irish with English subtitles filmed in An Rinn, the Gaeltacht district of Co. Waterford. It has a ludicrous premise, a fairy tale that takes us in fully and brings us on a predictible but fabulous journey. The script is sparse and spoken so slowly as to be almost a lesson in learning Irish. Cuan Mac Conghail’s gorgeously clear script has Gabriel Rosenstock’s (poet in the Irish Language) prints on it – a gentle poetic simplicity. It was made by Cuan and his brother Fiachra with their company Macalla. It was directed by Rachel Moriarty and Peter Murphy. This same company won the Best Irish Film Award at the festival in 2020 with Arracht. The story line borders on the delusional. It is a wonderful take on the idiosyncratic journey of grief. Róise (Bríd Ní Neachtain) has lost her husband, a renowned hurling legend. Her son (Cillian Ó Ghairbhi) is the local doctor who has recently had a new baby. He is a bit as sea as to how to deal with his mother’s depression and loss. A neighbouring separated man has notions about her but has been rebuffed in the quaintest of Irish ways. Then along comes the dog and the mythology takes off. Ascribing to him the return of her husband in canine form, she starts to call him Frank (her late husband). She is lifted out of her doldrums and the whole village notices and comments. The feeble romantic story line is generated by the relationship with her neighbour (Lorcan Cranitch) who has his creepy eye on her and who turns nasty when rebuffed. This trope confirmed for me that all the characterisations were transparent and predictable, but no less delightful for that. A second story line emerges with the local under 13 hurling team at the bottom of the championship and a young hopeful (Ruadhán de Faoite) who has nerdish qualities and is not rated and who longs to play on the team. The dog (Frank) is astonishing and really the star of the film. A beautiful cross lurcher, his acting skills are amazing, or rather his handlers and trainers are extraordinary. The relationship between him and Róise is brilliantly done as is the relationship between him and the young hopeful player. For many of us who have long forgotten our roots it is a wonderful reminder of our earlier days when life was simpler The film is quintessentially Irish in its flavour, its pace, the visuals and the storyline. It is funny, sad, exciting. However, it is not credible which doesn’t matter a bit from an enjoyment point of view. It is beautifully scripted, exquisitely photographed (Cinematographer Peter Robertson), the interactions are wonderfully understated and the twists though predictable are delightful, with a not so clichéd ending. If this were a subtitled foreign language film, it would be hailed, and. I would be hopeful that it would find its way into every art house cinema across the world and into mainstream cinemas in Ireland. Review by Rosy Wilson This is a gentle, slow-paced film in the opening half. RÓISE is grieving for her husband Frank who died two years earlier. It begins with slow piano music and we see an unkempt woman in her dressing gown peeping out through bedroom curtains, then in the kitchen having a cup of tea, out the door of her bungalow then in her bed calling Frank's phone to hear his voice saying,”Please leave a message”. Then we see her walking through trees in her garden up some steps leading into a field. All this is accompanied by piano and violin music which holds the otherwise disjointed narrative together. A dog runs through the field and a boy comes home from schoolwith a sliotar and ball. He pats the dog, puts down his school bag and starts hitting the ball against the wall. The scene changes to a Doctor's surgery where a bearded man is giving a script for Prozac to an old man who tells him that was what his previous doctor prescribed. We learn that the doctor is Alan, Róise's son, who is concerned for his mother's lasting grief and despondency. We see Róise again going to the shop for her groceries. She is still downcast and says little. The dog follows her and won't go away though she shouts at him. He follows her home where he jumps onto an arm chair but she sweeps him off saying, “Noone but Frank may ever sit in this chair and noone has since he died two years ago.” The next morning the school bus arrives and Michael gets on. He looks smaller than the others, a bit shy with his spectacles. Then the woman follows the dog to a glade where they sit peacefully side by side looking out onto the green countryside. On the way back Róise buys steak, she cooks it for both of them and they eat together at the then move to the sofaawhere she tells the dog all about Frank and their happy life together. Alan brings his baby girl to visit his mother and finds her in bed with the dog on Frank's side. Alan turns him out but Róise chases after him in her dressing gown, brings him back and tells Alan that the dog is Frank reincarnated, they argue and Alan takes the baby, who his mother had hardly looked at, home to his wife, The dog leads the way to Frank's grave so Róise is even more certain and names the dog Frank. Because Frank was the star hurler in the district, Róise sends him out to play with Michael and they have a great game. “Michael, is that dog teaching you hurling” she calls. The second half of the film picks uo the pace, the music is louder and faster and the characters are more positive. Róise is smarter, happier, more sociable, resumes activities like her choir. Alan is pleased to see his mother recovering. A friend videos Mikey hurling with the dog and shows it to their teacher and coach who invite Mikey onto the team,, With dog Frank on the sidelines Mikey is the star player and the team reaches the finals which they win. Domcha invites Róise for a glass of wine, they have a pleasant evening together but she makes it clear the dog is her husband, Domcha just a family friend. He is very jealous and when the dog saw him off he reported him as dangerous and the dog was put in the pound. Róise, Alan and Mikey search everywhere and finally go to the pound where Mikey tells the warden, “That dog is this woman's husband, this man's father, this baby's grandfather and my hurling coach.” The warden gives them the address where dog Frank was and another dog to give the family but find him playing with a little girl who'd lost her father a year ago. Sadly Róise decides that she needed him more. They drive home together with the new dog. I enjoyed this film, the music the scenery, the character development and the simple yet original storyline. Review by Neville Wiltshir This was a most enjoyable film. Light comedy, good acting, doesn`t require brain stretching to understand what it is about . Set in Waterford Gaelteact, Irish dialogue, gorgeous scenery. Unusual for rural Ireland no pub scene and not priest in sight. Shades of Babe, A Dogs Purpose, Ballykissangel, Killnaskully. Great for family viewing, no bad language or sex. Great characters. Mainly about a greiving middle aged widow. She has a son, a local doctor who smokes and doesn`t care much for his patients. Next door lives a not very nice separated man who fancies the widow. There`s a local boy, puny, redhaired, be-spectacled that obviously will be prone to bullying. Helping in the enjoyment is a concientious but soft hearted guard ( played by third generation of a great Irish acting family). There`s another performer but telling about him would spoil the story. Politically correct with the inclusion of an ethnic minority character and casting women in professional roles If the film was in English it would have a well deserved wider appeal.