Ann  – Film Review

Ann  – Film Review
by Frank L.

Director – Ciaran Creagh
Writer – Ciaran Creagh
Stars – Ian Beattie, Eileen Walsh, Zara Devlin

The circumstances surrounding the death of Ann Lovett on 31st January 1984, in so far as they are known, are horrific. She was found having delivered alone her dead son in front of Our Lady’s Grotto in the small town of Granard, in County Longford. She was to die herself shortly afterwards. She had been unable to turn to anyone for help throughout her pregnancy. She was fifteen years old.  Even to write those facts almost forty years later still sends out an incredulous shock to the system. The passage of time has not alleviated the horror.

Creagh in this film has recreated the world of Ann, some of the members of her family and some of the community of Granard on that tragic day. One of the exacerbating features of the death of Ann and her infant son is that the inhabitants of Granard have determined that silence was to be their reaction to the deaths. Over the passage of time, that omerta has been fractured to some extent but a great deal of uncertainty surrounds the entire course of Ann’s pregnancy. Creagh therefore in this film has to recreate Ann’s last day with little detailed factual information as to what actually happened. No doubt he has made some artistic choices that it is possible to criticise but that does not take away from the central premise of Ann’s story. Ann was a fifteen-year-old girl who was about to have her baby and she was alone with no one to help her.

Zara Devlin has the daunting task of playing Ann. She has been nominated for an IFTA award as best film actress for her portrayal. The award will be made on 7th May. She brings a quiet dignity to this enormous role. She conveys undemonstratively and silently some of the hideous decisions that this 15-year-old had to face, for example, the choice of a pair of scissors to cut the umbilical cord. Devlin richly deserves to be nominated for best actress. Ann’s mother (Eileen Walsh) is a woman of clipped manner who is the mother of eight children. She is devout. Her husband is Diarmuid (Ian Beattie), an ineffectual man and the owner of a pub over which the family live. Her younger sister also called Patricia is played by Senna O’Hara. The mores of the town are personified by the parish priest who is played by Philip Judge. In his world, the omnipotence of his church unquestionably comes first. The customs of Granard itself is an important ingredient and it appears as sparsely populated with spontaneity lacking. Piety and the rule of religion are all important. Once Ann and her dead infant son are discovered the momentum of the film changes entirely as there is a great deal of feverish activity by the emergency services. However, it is all too little too late.

The death of Ann Lovett and her son occurred shortly after Ireland had voted for the so-called pro-life amendment to be inserted into the Constitution.  The campaign for its insertion had been highly divisive. The death of Ann Lovett and her infant son stand as a grim memorial to a young woman who was alone and pregnant in Ireland in 1984. Her fate must not be forgotten. This film helps to ensure that she is remembered.

Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies

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