By Olivia Tracey
The arrival of actor Pierce Brosnan in any city would, as you might imagine, cause quite a stir. Well, the recent Dublin premier of his latest film, "The Nephew," was no exception, as the ever-increasing crowd recently gathered outside The Parnell Center’s Virgin Cinema Complex awaiting even a glimpse of the 007 hero.
Inside the cinema, Miriam O’Callaghan of "RTE Primetime," a vision in ivory silk, certainly added to the glamour. However, she also focused audience attention on the real meaning of the event: it was both a celebration of Irish film and as a fund-raiser for two worthy charities, Women’s Aid and the Cancer Support Center, Arc House.
Proud speeches were made by executive producer Morgan O’Sullivan of Ardmore Studies, debut co-producer Brosnan himself, and his partner, Beau St. Clair, and by director Eugene Brady, all culminating in Donal McCann’s succinct witticism, "I’ll second all of that."
Then the film started to roll — and it was wonderful on every level, from script to scenery. "The Nephew" is old world romance at its best, a true love story that engages from start to finish. Hubbard casting can be proud of their terrific almost-all-Irish cast, which includes Sinead Cusack, Niall Toibin, Aislin McGuckin and Luke Griffin. Donal McCann really lends weight to the film as the embittered uncle opposite the handsome and heartbroken village publican played by Brosnan. The only non-Irish cast member is American actor Hill Harper, who does a find job as the nephew. Special credit must also go to the composer, Stephen McKeon, who delivered a soundtrack so brilliant that surely a CD must be on the cards. Particularly memorable is a rap version of Thin Lizzie’s "Whiskey in the Jar," performed with tremendous humor by Phelim Drew (son to the Dubliners’ Ronnie) in a supporting role as the farmhand.
All in all, "The Nephew" is a wonderful debut for Bray-born director Eugene Brady, who proved to be as charming as he is talented. No doubt he is humorous and thoughtful too, with the ushers distributing packets of tissues to help us regain our composure at the tearful film ending.
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Afterwards, tears mopped up, it was party time back in the Merrion Room at the RDS. Celebrations were in full swing, jazz band included, with everyone looking very happy indeed, especially executive producers Bernard and Marguerite Somers.
Brosnan did the social rounds as graciously as ever, as did the entire cast, including the lovely Lorraine Pilkington, who, unfortunately, missed the screening due to a long day of filming Barbara Taylor Bradford’s "Her Own Rules." Unfortunately, the nephew himself, gorgeous Hill Harper, couldn’t make it either, due to his filming a Spike Lee movie. I’m told he was almost in tears about missing the Dublin premier. I’ve no doubt the feeling was mutual, especially among the female audience.
Also there were John Hubbard, as gentlemanly as always, casting associate Mary McGuire, hilarious PR personality Gerry Lundberg and actor Paul Ronan. Paul, back in Ireland for a while with this wife, Monica, and 4-year-old daughter, Saoirse, has been going from strength to strength in the movie world since his motion picture debut with Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford in "The Devil’s Own."
Indeed, "New York Undercover" followed, and not it appears the talented actor is on a roll, so to speak, having recently completed "The Hunted" with Mickey Rourke and Andrew Connolly and a CBS TV movie called "Durango," a sort of Irish Western, opposite Patrick Bergin. Next in line is "Ordinary Decent Criminal" alongside no less than Kevin Spacey of "The Usual Suspects" fame.
I also chatted briefly with Phelim Drew, who worked alongside Paul, Mickey and the rest of Irish Hollywood in "The Hunted." As for his dad, Ronnie, he is off to the imminent Edinburgh Theatre Festival with his highly acclaimed one-man show, "Ronnie, I Hardly Knew You," which I imagine must be quite a piece of entertainment.
Also in fine form was "The Nephew" composer Stephen McKeon, who recalled his first break five years ago through Morgan O’Sullivan on the TV series "In the Name of Love." Since then, he has scored more than 12 films, including "The American," which was recently filmed in Ireland with Matthew Modine. And to top it all, he is as nice as pie.
No less endearing is director Eugene Brady, who was clearly elated by the audience reaction to his first film. Of course, he was already a success having produced numerous TV commercials worldwide and the BBC drama series "10 X 10." However, he refused to rest on his laurels, signing up for a two-year film study program with the prestigious American Film Institute in L.A. His hard work and diligence paid off as he met with producer Beau St. Clair at a dinner party, which in turn resulted in a phone call from her partner, no other than Pierce Brosnan himself.
"Howya?" said Brosnan. "I’ve never produced and you’ve never directed . . . " and so was born "The Nephew." It is currently on European release with American dates to be confirmed.
My only regret is that I missed one of my favorite people, Donal McCann, who slipped away before I could extend him congratulatory hugs.
Coincidentally, I brought my 20-year-old nephew Ronan Marsh to the premier. Ronan gave his own enthusiastic thumbs up to "The Nephew," after which he took me night-clubbing ’till the small hours. No doubt half of Dublin suspected that I had acquired a boy toy on my travels. Me? Never!