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That They May Face the Rising Sun


Stars: Barry Ward, Anna Bederke, Lalor Roddy, Ruth McCabe, Sean McGinley

Director: Pat Collins

After an opening credits crawl of three and a half minutes (some crawl), tinkling piano music sets the tone for this Irish mood piece, set in the 1980s and filled with long-held views of the countryside and people plodding along lengthy country roads. 'The only thing that keeps people here,' says one character, 'is the quiet.' Well, there's certainly a lot of that.

Joe (Ward), a writer, and Kate (German actress Bederke), a painter/illustrator, have moved back from London (where she co-ran a gallery) to his roots in a modestly impoverished section of rural Ireland.

We meet their friends and neighbours, scattered in humble dwellings across the countryside. And when the gallery owner pays a visit expressing his intention to retire, Joe and Kate must decide whether to return and run the gallery, or stay where they are. In between, as one character says, 'the rain comes down, the sun shines, the grass grows, the children grow old and (like one character) die'. There's a wedding and a funeral before Joe and Kate come to a decision.

Joe's grizzled friend Patrick (Roddy), who helps him build a 'pavilion' in the garden, asks Joe about his new book, but might be talking about the film: 'Does anything happen? Or is it the usual heavy going?' 'Not much in the way of drama,' replies Joe, 'more day to day stuff.'

Hard to rate a film like this. But lovers of Ireland and its pastoral pleasures might find they like it quite a lot.

David Quinlan

Ireland 2023. UK Distributor: Conic. Colour (unspecified).
111 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 23 Apr 2024