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With: James Caan, Aidan Quinn, Moya Farrelly, Gina Moxley, Jacob Tierney, Donal Donnelly, Maria McDermottroe, Moira Deady, Stephen Rea
Written by: Paul Quinn
Directed by: Paul Quinn
MPAA Rating: R for a scene of sexuality and brief language
Running Time: 121
Date: 06/14/1998

This Is My Father (1999)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Irish Roots

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This Is My Father premiered at this year's San Francisco International Film Festival and was 1st runner up for the Audience Award for Best Picture. The movie is directed by Paul Quinn, photographed by Declan Quinn, stars Aidan Quinn, and all three brothers serve as executive producers. It was obviously a labor of love for them, but for me it's more of just a labor.

In This Is My Father James Caan plays Kieran, an Irish-American schoolteacher who goes on a hunt for his roots. He travels to Ireland with his restless teenage nephew Jack (Jacob Tierney). They stay in a bed-and-breakfast run by Colm Meany and his mother Susan Almgren, who proceeds to tell them their family history.

In flashback, we're told of the forbidden love story of Fiona Flynn (the lovely Moya Farrelly in her film debut) and Kieran O'Day (Aidan Quinn). Kieran is a poor orphan farmer and Fiona is one of the town's most respected citizens. Her mother (Gina Moxley) forbids her to see Kieran, so she continues. It's a beautifully photographed love story, but obvious and slow. The story is peppered with wonderful appearances by great character actors: Stephen Rea as a nasty, cruel priest with yellow fingers; John Cusack as an American photographer and pilot who takes a picture of the lovers; and Brendan Gleeson (who was so good in John Boorman's The General) as a cop. But their brief moments of life aren't enough to sustain the movie.

Back in the present day, Kieran and Jack don't learn anything really important except that there's a curse on their family -- a curse that Jack seems to break by falling for a young Irish girl he's met. This Is My Father may appeal to audiences with Irish blood and similar histories, but for the rest of us, it's like looking at a dull family slide show.

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