Desmond Doyle (Pierce Brosnan) is a painter and decorator in 1950s Dublin. One day his wife leaves him with their three children, two sons and daughter Evelyn (Sophie Vavasseur). Desmond can’t keep away from the bottle, with the result that his children are taken into care. Evelyn finds herself in a convent-run orphanage. Desmond swears that he will get his children back…
Based on a true story, Evelyn comes to the screen as a bland and more than a little sentimental star vehicle for Pierce Brosnan, made by his own production company. However, he’s none too well cast: outside Bond he’s much better at similar well-dressed elegance, as in The Thomas Crown Affair. Playing a down-and-out drunkard simply isn’t within his range. His character is introduced in a pub singalong, and if that doesn’t makes your heart sink nothing will: this film collects more cinematic Oirishry in one place than anything since Angela’s Ashes and Waking Ned. The presence of visiting Americans Quinn and Margulies in the cast doesn't help credibility much either.
Bruce Beresford directs with his usual faceless efficiency, commendably bringing the film in at an hour and a half. But he seems to have no real connection to the material: there’s no real sense of Doyle’s poverty and suffering. Everything looks too tasteful and glossy. This is a film that primarily aims to provoke tears and it might well succeed amongst the more susceptible. But there’s a difference between sentimental and truly moving, and this is clearly the former rather than the latter.