Dancing at Lughnasa

Watch Dancing at Lughnasa

"Five sisters embrace the spirit of a people."
  • PG
  • 1998
  • 1 hr 35 min
  • 6.3  (3,954)

Dancing at Lughnasa, a 1998 movie directed by Pat O'Connor and based on Brian Friel's play, transports the viewers to rural Ireland in the 1930s. The movie follows the Mundy sisters, five spinster siblings, who live together in a small house in the village of Ballybeg. The sisters are Kate (Meryl Streep), Maggie (Kathy Burke), Agnes (Brid Brennan), Rose (Sophie Thompson), and Christina (Catherine McCormack).

Kate is the older sister who runs the household with an iron fist, while Maggie is the simple-minded and jolly one. Agnes and Rose work at a knitwear factory, and Christina is a former missionary who has returned home with her seven-year-old son, Michael (Darrell Johnston). Michael is the narrator of the movie, and his presence is a constant reminder of Christina's liaison with a man who is absent from both their lives.

The movie takes place over the course of a few months, from August until October, and centers around the pagan festival of Lughnasa, a time of harvest, celebration, and dancing. The arrival of Michael brings joy and life to the household, as he encourages the sisters to dance and sing to the music of their wireless radio. They dance to everything from rollicking Irish jigs to the sultry music of American jazz, and their infectious energy creates a sense of community and vitality that has been missing from their lives.

However, the idyllic summer is not without its challenges. The sisters live in poverty, and their simple existence is threatened by the changing times. Kate is the most pragmatic of them all, and she voices her concerns about the uncertainties of the future. She worries about the arrival of the new radio station and the decline of the knitwear factory, which will make it difficult for the sisters to make ends meet. Michael, a curious observer of the world around him, is fascinated by the arrival of the Marconi wireless radio and the sound of voices coming from faraway places.

The movie also explores the conflicted loyalties and desires of the sisters. Rose, the shy and reclusive one, yearns for a life of love and happiness, but is thwarted by her own insecurities and the disapproval of Kate. Agnes, the practical one, shows little interest in romance or adventure, content with her work and simple pleasures. Maggie, the most vibrant and joyful of them all, is always the life of the party, but her tardiness and forgetfulness has led to problems in the past.

The arrival of the sisters' brother Jack (Michael Gambon), a Catholic priest who has spent many years working as a missionary in Uganda, adds another layer of complexity to the plot. Jack, who has become estranged from his family and faith, has been diagnosed with malaria and has come home to Ireland to recover. His presence is both a blessing and a curse, as his memories of Africa and his lost faith disrupt the routine and harmony of the household.

The movie unfolds in gentle, leisurely pace, capturing the rhythms and moods of rural life in 1930s Ireland. The director, Pat O'Connor, creates an evocative and atmospheric mood, using the beautiful landscapes of Donegal to convey a sense of place and history. The acting is superb, with Meryl Streep bringing both strength and vulnerability to her portrayal of Kate, and Michael Gambon delivering a powerful and nuanced performance as Jack. The rest of the cast is equally impressive, each bringing a unique personality and vitality to their roles.

In conclusion, Dancing at Lughnasa is a beautiful and poignant movie that explores the themes of family, community, love, and loss. The movie's musical score, which includes traditional Irish and African music, adds to its emotional resonance and captures the movie's spirit of celebration and resilience. The movie is a gentle reminder of a simpler time and a celebration of the strength of the human spirit. It is a movie that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.

Dancing at Lughnasa is a 1998 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 35 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.3.

Dancing at Lughnasa
Where to Watch Dancing at Lughnasa
Dancing at Lughnasa is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Dancing at Lughnasa for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 35 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.3  (3,954)