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  • sam6628 August 2001
    No big drama. No overblown action. Just a beautifully-filmed little movie that tells a simple story against a background of Irish political upheaval. Rebecca Pidgeon plays a sheltered, shabby-genteel girl just turning eighteen, who still has a bit of the outward appearance and behavior of a child. Orphaned young but raised by a loving aunt, grandfather, and housekeeper, she knows her mother is well and truly dead but has doubts about her father and tries to place him among the men she casually observes around town. When a man of suitable age appears on the beach near her rural home, she takes great interest--especially as his secretive nature offers few clues to his identity. Anthony Hopkins, eternally superb, plays the multi-layered character of the "tramp," and the relationship that develops between the two is the heart of the film. Look also for fine performances by Jean Simmons and Hugh Grant, as well as a host of familiar faces in small roles, and take the time to appreciate the lovely wind-whipped seaside locale and green inland vistas. A movie like this relies on character and scenery--The Dawning is a treasury of both.
  • In the minor genre of films about the Irish Revolution, there is a very small sub-genre of romances projected on to the backdrop of the Troubles. The best of these is of course "Ryan's Daughter", the average is "Cal" and the absolute worst is this turkey, "The Dawning." TD treats the huge turmoil of Ireland during the War of Independence as fodder for the self-absorption of a ditsy eighteen-yr-old. The script makes a big point early in the film about how much the heroine resents being considered immature, and then spends the rest of the movie showing that's exactly what she is. Frankly, she comes off as being more like a high school girl than a young woman about to leave for college. I got tired of this character very quickly, and soon found myself getting bored every time Hopkins wasn't on the screen. It did occur to me to wonder if the writer had written the character this way deliberately but if so, it was a very odd dramatic strategy; there was no real growth in the girl over the course of the movie.

    The one bright spot in TD is Anthony Hopkin's performance which is pretty good (especially considering how little he had to work with). If you're a big fan of AH, this flick might be worth your time; otherwise, give it a miss.