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  • I recognize many of the common Oirish cliches we wish were taken out of Irish films, yet this film isn't about the simple life in an Oirish village such as Waking Ned or BallyK. It deals with a part of our history that my parents well remember. A Love Divided is about a true incident in Co. Wexford in the late 1950's. In order to marry a Catholic, a Protestant woman signs a 'ne temere' pledge to raise their children in the Catholic church. When their oldest daughter reaches the age to start school and the Protestant mother decides she does not want to send her daughter blindly to Catholic school, pledge or no, a string of events takes place that affects the lives of the town and those outside it.

    The acting is brilliant. Liam Cunningham is magnificent as the husband caught between his religion and the family he loves. Orla Brady is equally magnificent as the defiant wife. Some may view this film as another show to the world that Ireland is a land of religious intolerance. I believe the fact that Irish film makers are now portraying incidents in our past such as the one in A Love Divided proves we recognize our past and are no longer doomed to repeat it.
  • This movie is about a side of Ireland that Americans don't normally see, the narrow-minded religiously prejudiced side of the 'friendliest race in the world'. The movie, by the admission of the inhabitants of Fethard who are old enough to remember the events, is fairly accurate (though they insist that the film-makers invented some of the more violent scenes just to spice up the action).

    The movie was very unpopular in Ireland as it portrayed the Catholic church in a bad light, but the simple fact is that representatives of the Catholic church *did* organise vetoes of minorities (before Protestants it was the Jews).

    The film is a fascinating insight into the whole issue of religion in Ireland
  • This movie might not put the Catholic church in the best light but it is telling a story based on true events. Unfortunately not everything in life, including religion, are all nice and rosy. Sometimes people and groups do things that at the time seem like the right thing but in retrospective do not look as great as they once did. "A Love Divided" tells the story of a family, yes it does incorporate religion, but really the story is about a family, and that family's ability to stay together no matter what is thrown at them. This film is also based on true events which is not to say that this story, scene by scene, is true, but if you were to look at news articles from that time period you would be able to see that neither churches handled the incident in a way that was helpful towards the family. Both churches are at fault here, the Catholic church for forcing such a regulation on the family in the first place and not responding to the violence that came with it and the Protestant church for telling the mother that she should just obey her husband and his priest and not put up a fight. In this case both let this family down. I believe that the film does a good job in showing this struggle in both the church and the family. It in no way shape or form is putting down the Catholic church, just the opposite, it shows how one incident can change the course of that religion's ideas and how one person can have an effect far more reaching then just themselves.
  • An excellent film that asks us to confront the fundamental issues involved when an authority acts to control the day-to-day decisions of families. In this case the authority is exerted by the clergy but could just as easily have been from the government, a political party, community standards and values, military orders etc. A village priest demands that a young girl be sent to a Catholic school. Her mother declares that the choice of which school to send her to will be made by her parents, not by the church. Conflict develops in which the village society chooses sides and treats its opponents viciously. Her husband wavers between love of his family and submission to church authority and local opinion, setting up a second conflict which we are forced to confront and evaluate. Each viewpoint, of mother, husband and priest is presented honestly and unflinchingly and the ending is equally honest: it does not insult us by giving us a comfortable all-is-forgiven happy-ever-after resolution. We come away with serious issues to be thought about. The script and acting are excellent and the film is an accurate portrayal of an Irish village of the period; having grown up in the Irish countryside in the 1940s-1950s I can vouch for its accuracy. There is none of the Oirishness or comic characters of Ned Devine; these are real people involved in a conflict that derives from each having a commitment to principles. This is a thought-provoking film set in a particular time and place but dealing with important human issues. No one from Ireland should be in the least embarrassed with the presentation. Having seen it in Dublin in June 1999, I sincerely hope it will be widely distributed in the near future.
  • Oh dear . Yet another example of " Oireland " and religion . No doubt we'll be seeing some depressing nonsense featuring some " hunky and macho freedom fighters " from the IRA . Well that was my initial reaction when the credits started but just over an hour and a half later I was in a state of shock . What a superb movie

    The story starts on the day of the wedding between Sean Cloney and Sheila Kelly in the 1950s . There is a slight problem since they're getting married in the catholic church and that is Sheila is a protestant but in order for the wedding to happen Sheila takes a pledge that her children will be brought up catholic and attend the catholic school when they're old enough . The story - Which is set in the 1950s - then jumps forward a few years when the Cloney daughters are about to start school but Sheila has decided they'll be attending the local protestant school much to the disgust of local priest Father Stafford . From there things escalate

    Let me put my cards on the table and state that despite having both Irish catholic and Scottish protestant heritage I was brought up as agnostic and have considered myself as an atheist throughout my adult life . In fact when it comes to religion I consider myself a Marxist and religion is a cynical weapon used to manipulate people . A LOVE DIVIDED shows what happens when self appointed moral guardians take it upon themselves to tell other people what to think and believe . May I have the temerity to state that if Karl Marx saw this movie he'd love it and call it a masterpiece ? Perhaps I shouldn't since the drama of this story shows what happens when other people do your thinking for you

    In reply to the couple of reviewers who have claimed this movie is propaganda of the worst sort I don't claim to know the exact details of what happened in County Wexford and there's no denying that Father Stafford and his flock of catholic sheep are portrayed as being the bad guys but Sheila isn't blameless herself . Think about a woman living in a rural village in 1950s Ireland who takes a pledge to bring her children up as catholics then changes her mind and believes there will be no consequences of this ? This is a warning against taking pledges and not keeping to them . Not only that but she disappears to let other people pick up the pieces of their shattered lives . There's also something that no one else has picked up upon and that is that the only character with any type of moral sense is former IRA man Andy Bailey who is shown as being gallant not because he was a former IRA member ( That makes a change . We're not talking about THE DEVIL'S OWN here ) but simply because he is an atheist who has decided to think for himself

    A LOVE DIVIDED is a superb movie that has a lot to say for itself , all of which I agree with . If there's any sort of criticism it's that it feels too much like a TVM rather than a cinematic movie but believe me I can live with that and is essential viewing to anyone who thinks religion is the opium of the masses
  • I thought that this picture had vanished from sight when it got an unexpected but fairly wide release in Northern Ireland. I am glad that a much bigger audience can now see it as it is a very honest and thought provoking look at the power held by the church in rural Ireland in the 1950.s, a period with which I can identify.Although it includes a who's who of the Irish acting fraternity, they all put in some magnificent performances. The picture is a study in control, and how the controller will respond if anyone dares to challenge their authority.Liam Cunningham is very believable as the Catholic husband torn between the love for his Protestant wife ( Orla Brady ) and the demands placed on him by the parish priest for his two girls to be brought up as Catholics. Based on a true and well publicised incident in Co.Wexford, forces us to confront the bigotry which blind faith can lead us all to.I recommend this picture to anyone who is out there, go and see it.
  • OH WOW. I saw this film at the Irish International Film Fleadh in Manhattan on 12 March 2000. Both stars were in attendance and were available for questions afterward. WHAT A GORGEOUS FILM! Although set in Ireland amid Catholic/Protestant antagonism, the story could have happened anywhere between any two groups of people who hate each other. The horror of how quickly people can get carried away when they are given a chance to vent their hate and anger was woven beautifully with a moving love story drizzled with humor and fun. If this one does not get picked up in the USA, it would truly be most unfortunate.

    As for the stars and supporting players...FIRST RATE. They call Orla Brady the Irish Meryl Streep, I heard. It is my opinion that she is BETTER than Meryl Streep. They should be calling Meryl the American Orla Brady! And, Liam Cunningham's steady and powerful portrayal of a simple and private man sucked into a political war was brilliant.

  • nturner9 November 2008
    I never fail to be amazed and horrified by the evil that has been predicated in the history of the world in the name of religion, and it seems that the machinations of the Catholic Church in Twentieth Century Ireland rank right up there near the top - considering that the wisdom of history and modern times should have had some sobering effect.

    A Love Divided is the story of a real family scarred by ignorant intolerance and prejudice all in the name of an inane Church doctrine. At the beginning of the film, we are offered a view of the bucolic life in a small Irish village in which Sheila and Sean Cloney are happily married with two young children. Sean is Catholic and Sheila is Protestant, but she has no qualms with their children being raised as Catholic. There is no sign of any animosity between the Catholics and Protestants in the village. The peaceful and loving relationships are soon shattered when Sheila expresses the desire to have their older child attend the Protestant school. The local priest takes it upon himself to forbid this "sin" and soon has Sheila's husband and the entire Catholic population of the village turned against her as well as her father, the local dairy farmer. In an act of defiance and desperation, Sheila kidnaps her two daughters and flees from the area.

    Special note should be given to Orla Brady who plays Sheila. She gives an extremely powerful performance in which the viewer is drawn in to the emotional trauma in which she decides to reject the wishes of a husband she deeply loves in order to express her fervent desire to establish herself as independent from the pressures of the establishment. On an equal footing is Liam Cunningham who plays Sean for he gives a realistic portrait of a man not nearly as complex as his wife who is torn between his love for her and the influence of Church and community.

    If fiction, this film would have been a compelling and interesting drama. Considering it is true, it changes to a horrific tragedy. In real life, the people and the village never fully recovered from the events that took place there. It took almost half a century for the Church to acknowledge its negative role in the events, and even though Sheila and Sean lived out their lives in the area, they never fully recovered from what was done to them by the religious leaders and their fellow villagers.

    Whether it be denying basic rights to education of choice, crashing planes into buildings, subjugating women, condemning whole races, or just plain on torture and murder, we humans certainly have the ability to use religion as a powerful negative force in our society.
  • To say this film is simply a demonisation of Catholics and a misrepresentation of history is untrue. That is not what this film is.

    What this film is is a comment on the abuses of the Church (although this could be substituted for any powerful body), the ways that this abuse affects people and families and the way so many people choose to simply allow and often participate in the abuse without thinking for themselves. The fact that it is the Catholic church which is in the wrong is simply because of the nature of the true story the film is based upon. To label this as propaganda against Catholics seems to miss the truth about what the Catholic Church has done at times; its history is often not great and is something that films like this highlight and that needs to be highlighted. Yes we should comment on the abuses committed by other organisations but that is not for the remit of this film.

    It is an amazing film which brought me to tears and well worth watching - 'if we do not study the past, we are bound to repeat it'
  • yelenakaplun11 December 2008
    This was a gem. Amazing acting from the leads Liam Cunningham, Orla Brady and all the supporting cast. The movie raises a subject not only pertinent to Ireland and Irish history but to many communities around the world and many marriage units within those communities. With intensity and sincerity the movie shows how the religious convictions and traditions drove a wedge on a loving and passionate family. The title "Love divided" couldn't capture it any better. Even though it was a true story and happening in Ireland of the 50th seeing how the life of the whole village erodes and "pogroms" are starting reminded me of Russian history. The intolerance and prejudice are still too powerful in the world and unfortunately it's deeply hidden inside the human nature. Just like in the movie the Liam Cunningham's character says "the hatred had always been there under the surface". It was interesting to watch the moral choices people were making in this story. Also the character of a catholic priest and what happened to him in the end of the story was quite meaningful. The story however gives hope that love of two people can conquer everything and love makes us better, stronger. Liam Cunningham's character goes through the whole transformation in the course of the story becoming a man he always wanted to be. Again acting is a top notch. Story is fast-paced. Irish countryside is as beautiful as ever. Highly recommended.
  • lllampert23 December 2005
    Generally I like something light and fun, so this film shouldn't have appealed to me. But it grabbed me from the start. The story of a family's choices and challenges seem obvious, but it raises the question over and over: "What if it was my family? My choice?" I cried and laughed when they did because I really felt what the people involved felt. It was in places difficult to watch, but more difficult to turn away. The story is true, and life is sometimes difficult to watch! It shows what film-makers can do without sex, violence, or special effects: a good story is a good story all by itself. The best and most unpredictable stories are all true ones. Like real life, you really don't know what'll happen next, or why people do the things that they do!
  • What has Ireland ever done to film distributers that they seek to represent the country in such a pejorative way? This movie begins like a primer for film students on Irish cinematic cliches: unctuous priests, spitting before handshakes, town square cattle marts, cycling by country meadows to the backdrop of anodyne folk music. Quickly, however, it becomes apparent that the main theme of the film is the big Daddy-O of Irish Cliches - religous strife. It concerns a protestant woman who wants to decide where her Catholic-fathered child is educated, which would seem like a reasonable enough wish, though not to the '50's County Wexford villagers she has to live with. Rather than send them to a Catholic school, she decides to up and leave for Belfast, then Scotland, where a few more cliches are reguritated. While she's there, her father (who looks eerily like George Lucas) and family back home are subjected to a boycott, which turns very nasty. I'm not going to give away the ending, not because I think people should go see this movie, but because it's not very interesting. One of the problems with the film is the central character: we're supposed to sympathise with her but end up instead urging her to get a life. The villagers are presented as bigots whose prejudices should be stood up to, but traumatising your kids seems an innappropriate way to go about it. In addition, it takes on burdens which it staggers igniminiously under when it tries to draw analogies with the current Northern Ireland peace process: the woman is told by her lawyer that she "must lay down preconditions" for her return. The film is allegedly based on a true story but it's themes have been dealt with much more imaginatively, and with less recourse to hackneyed cliches, in the past.
  • Shippey13 August 2001
    I can not believe such slanted, jingoistic material is getting passed off to Americans as art house material. Early on, from such telling lines like "we want to make sure they are playing for the right team" and manipulative framing and lighting, A Love Divided shows it's true face. The crass manner in which the Irish Catholics are shown as hegemonic, the Protestants as peaceful and downtrodden, is as poor a representation of history as early US westerns that depict the struggle between cowboys and American Indians. The truth of the story is distorted with the stereotypes and outright vilification of the Irish Catholics in the story; a corruption admitted by the filmmakers themselves! It is sad that people today still think that they can win moral sway by making a film so easily recognized for it's obvious intent, so far from attempting art. This film has no business being anywhere in any legitimate cinema or library.