Drinking, dancing and feuding in “County Clare”

“The Boys and Girl from County Clare”

Studio Hamburg Worldwide Pictures

Directed by John Irvin

Produced by Wolfgang Esenwein, Evzen Kolar and Ellen Dinerman Little

Written by Nicholas Adams

Starring Colm Meaney, Bernard Hill, Andrea Corr, Shaun Evans and Charlotte Bradley

Not Rated/90 Minutes

Opened May 20, 2005

Two out of four stars

The recipe is very easy, even for the most novice cooks: Take one serving each of family rivalry and Family Feud, one serving of young, star-crossed romance, add in a battle of the bands and a wee bit of good ol’ Irish charm, and voila! You’ve got “The Boys and Girl from County Clare,” a cute-but-predictable effort from filmmaker John Irvin (“Raw Deal”).

“Boys and Girl” takes place in late 1960s Ireland, and centers on the annual All-Ireland Traditional Ceili Music Competition, where young love blooms, family feuds come full circle and old scores are settled, all in the space of a day or two.

Jimmy (Colm Meaney) and John Joe (Bernard Hill) are brothers who have rarely spoken for years, and whose feud goes well beyond basic sibling rivalry.

Jimmy is a successful businessman in Liverpool, while John Joe lives his life in the boys’ poor hometown of County Clare. Both are Ceili (traditional Irish) musicians, and both are bringing their respective bands to compete in the annual music competition.

While Jimmy’s band is made up mostly of young lads influenced by the Beatles, John Joe’s band includes violin prodigy Anne (Andrea Corr of The Corrs), Anne’s mother (Charlotte Bradley) on piano and, on accordian, a man who looks a bit too much like Kate Bosworth for his own good.

On the way to the festival, both brothers try to sabotage the other’s efforts to get to the competition on time, to no avail.

Now, see if you can connect the dots here: Jimmy and John Joe are feuding, in part because of something that happened many years ago regarding Anne’s mother Maisie. Jimmy left County Clare about 20 years ago to pursue a business career. Anne has never known her father.

Hmm.

Meanwhile, Anne-who has always been overprotected from boys by her mother-falls for Teddy (Shaun Evans), a member of rival Jimmy’s band. Maisie becomes upset, confronts Jimmy and out comes the dirty laundry. Somewhere in there, there’s one of those “When I was a little girl…” scenes.

It’s never hard to see where any of this is going. People kiss and make up, learn valuable life lessons and live happily ever after.

Almost all of “Boys and Girl” takes place in the quaint little Irish town where the competition is being held. The poor Irish folks camp out and bathe in the river and, needless to say, a blarney stone is prominently involved.

Its very Irish-ness makes the film somewhat endearing, and it might even have been likeable were it not so damned clich.

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