Prop­erty of the State

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - CINEMA - AINE O'CONNOR

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.

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