Property of the State
Cert: 16; Now showing
None of the usual channels wanted to fund director Kit Ryan’s film. Getting the finance for the small Irish production took almost four years and ended up coming from the UK.
Twenty years after the events, the subject matter was still difficult, controversial and sensitive. The eventual film has won prizes for its telling of a horrible episode in Irish history from a very interesting angle.
In 1994 Brendan O’donnell murdered Imelda Riney, her son Liam and Fr Joe Walsh. In 1996 he was found sane and tried for murder. The film opens after his conviction on his sister Ann Marie (played by Aisling Loftus) and her small son, getting abuse from fellow train passengers. She begins to write the diaries on which Susan Morrall based the screenplay.
The story is of Ann Marie and Brendan’s awful childhood in Clare (Hazel Doupe and David Rawle play the children). From the age of four Brendan was on Valium for his troubled behaviour. There were many flags, many cries for help, all unheeded by the same system that punished him when its failings bore horrible fruit.
The story is told through the eyes of Ann Marie, who was also badly let down, as she wonders “Can you still love someone who has done a terrible thing?” It is open to accusations of dodging the murders, though I felt that worked. It will certainly unsettle and anger some but it is very effective and raises important issues.