The Boys from County Clare

Watch The Boys from County Clare

  • R
  • 2003
  • 1 hr 30 min
  • 6.5  (1,496)
  • 59

The Boys from County Clare is a 2003 musical comedy-drama film directed by John Irvin. Set in 1960s Ireland, the film follows the story of two estranged brothers, Jimmy (Colm Meaney) and John Joe (Bernard Hill), who are reunited when they both enter their prize-winning ceilidh bands into the All-Ireland Traditional Music Competition at the County Clare.

The film starts with Jimmy, a successful businessman living in Liverpool, returning to Ireland with his band - 'The Jimmy McMahon Band' - to compete against his brother, John Joe, and his band - 'The John Joe McMahon Band,' who are widely known as the best traditional Irish band in the region. Despite being brothers, Jimmy and John Joe are not on speaking terms due to a bitter past incident. As the two bands head to the competition, they soon realize that their rivalry extends far beyond the music.

Notably, the film is set in a time when traditional Irish music and culture were rapidly evolving. The two brothers represent the opposing forces of the old and the new guard. Jimmy's band is a modern outfit experimenting with contemporary sounds while John Joe's is a classic traditionalist. Their confrontation at the competition brings these differences to the fore.

One of the key highlights of the film is the music. The All-Ireland Traditional Music Competition, which serves as a backdrop for the film, features some of the best traditional Irish musicians in the country. The film beautifully captures the intensity and passion of the competition with stunning musical performances that range from traditional reels to rock 'n' roll.

The film also comprises a strong supporting cast, particularly Shaun Evans as the young, ambitious musician Teddy, who serves as the catalyst for the film's central conflict. Teddy's involvement in both bands as a saxophonist complicates the situation further but also brings both brothers closer together.

The backdrop of the Irish countryside further adds to the film's charm. The picturesque landscapes, the colourful houses, and the locals' warm hospitality, make for a beautiful and delightful cinematic experience.

While the film does fall prey to some clichés, particularly the conflict between the two brothers, it is the music that takes centre stage and saves the film from being mundane. The film offers an honest portrayal of the changing times, caught in the midst of tradition and modernism.

Despite the film's central conflict being between Jimmy and John Joe, it is the characters around them that provide the film with its soul. The band members, the locals, and even the judges at the competition, each with their unique set of quirks and flaws, are what make the film stand out. Each character adds their own bit to the film's larger narrative, giving an engaging and layered experience.

Overall, The Boys from County Clare is a beautiful ode to traditional Irish music and culture. The film's strengths lie in the music, the characters, and the stunning scenery, which all combine to deliver a charming and unforgettable cinematic experience. Fans of Irish music and culture are sure to find this film thoroughly enjoyable.

The Boys from County Clare
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 30 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.5  (1,496)
  • Metascore