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Film Reviews, Festivale movie section, a reel life
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Festivale online magazine, February, 1998
The Matchmaker movie review
The Matchmaker

I have to confess that most Irish movies leave me bored. Too often they’re about "The Troubles" and everyone has a face that’s as closed and pinched together as an angry fist. From this atheist’s point of view, religious disagreements are an unnecessary and tragic silliness.

But lately, there have been a few flicks that hit the other side of the karmic coin. I Went Down for one and The Matchmaker which takes an international view of rural Ireland and its customs.

Marcy (Garafalo) is an American aide to Senator McGlory, a none too bright politician who looks like he’s going to get done over at the next election.

Movie Poster, The Matchmaker (film review)
Movie Poster, The Matchmaker

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McGlory and his other aide, the sleazy Nick (Leary, who does sleaze the way a chainsaw does a tree) send her off to McGlory’s ancestoral village of Ballinagra in Ireland to find some photogenic relatives of the Senator who can be used to help him get the Irish vote.

There she meets Dermot, the local Matchmaker who is presiding over the annual matchmaking festival and Sean, a disillusioned journalist turned bartender whom she finds in her bathtub where he and his dog Murphy are having a bath.

There’s a chemistry between Marcy and Sean but only Dermot really sees it. As she wanders the village looking for McGlorys and meeting the locals, the film cuts to Dermot producing a videotape on matchmaking. Dermot’s weird wisdom forms a chorus for the film’s action. He plots to get the two together (and has a hundred quid bet with another matchmaker on the outcome) and so sends them off to the Aran Islands to meet the best genealogist in Ireland.

Without spoiling the outcome or the events that occur when Senator McGlory and Nick fly to Ballinagra to meet the other McGlorys, I’ll just say that the shit gently hits the fan in a whimsical and lateral way.

This is a feel-good film but one with character. Garafalo is a good screen presence. Her character Marcy doesn’t take shit from anyone and never gives it out unnecessarily. She’s wary but not too cynical to be charmed by what she finds in Ballinagra. The attempts of the local beaus to impress her are found more touching and silly than offensive.

Milo O’Shea is a treat as Dermot and has a couple of great scenes that add surprising depth to the character.

David O’Hara’s Sean doesn’t hit a wrong note, either. He shows the character’s vulnerability in small, subtle ways and there’s a good sense that Sean and Marcy are suited to each other. Both have strength, sense of humour and a refreshing intelligence.

All in all, a good date film.

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Title: The Matchmaker (1997)
Written by: Karen Janszen, Louis Nowra, Graham Linehan
Directed by: Mark Joffe
Produced by: Lyn Goleby, Debra Hayward, Liza Chasin
Edited by: Martin Smith
Director of Photography: Ellery Ryan

The Players: Jeaneane Garafalo, David O'Hara
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Festivale Online Magazine
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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Filed: 25-Mar-97 : Last updated: 23-Apr-2001 : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
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