Maeve Binchy is an Irish writer of romantic fiction. She can boil a pot with adjectives that fire the imagination of ladies who feel duped by life’s broken promises. Is there hope for the heart in a world populated by men who charm the knickers off anyone they choose and then drift away once housework becomes an issue and Saturday shopping at the supermarket a private duty?

The characters in Tara Road have labels the size of dart boards around their necks. There is the innocent wife (Olivia Williams), her husband the cad (Iain Glen), the grieving American mother (Andie MacDowell), the blarney basted restaurateur (Stephen Rea), the two-faced best friend (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and the kids (Sarah Bolger and whoever plays her younger brother).

Copy picture

These are stereotypes. The plot is as real as a bouquet of silk roses. They say that Ms Binchy churns out best sellers with the regularity of a cow passing wind. Looking at this, you can see why. It’s called auto-rom. Press WISH and follow the xxxs.

What saves Tara Road are the performances, especially Williams, who is a revelation. Director Gillies MacKinnon has made terrific movies in the past (The Playboys, Small Faces, Regeneration) and is not going to sleepwalk through this. Everyone is trying their hardest, with the possible exception of Rea, the gloomiest actor in Ireland, who is laughing behind his apron, and Ruby Wax, who comes on in a cameo role and simply fools about.

The cad tells the innocent wife he’s having a baby with a younger, sexier girl (Heike Makatsch). In New England, the grieving American mother can’t get over the death of her teenage son and rings the innocent wife to suggest a house swop for two months. She comes over to Dublin, where everyone is SO kind, especially the blarney basted restaurateur, who has carnal thoughts. The innocent wife finds New England (South Africa) luxurious and wonderful, where the grieving American mother’s neighbours (Wax and someone else black) are SO kind and her husband’s brother (Jean-Marc Barr), who looks gay, has carnal thoughts. The cad’s business goes belly up and there is talk of selling the house on Tara Road. Big bonding sesh with female members of cast. Obviously on Planet Binchy men are shits, wets, or second rate flatterers, while women make the world go round. She could be right.

Two of the ever-memorable back up singers in The Commitments were Bronagh Gallagher and Kennedy. They are reunited here. Gallagher plays the cad’s business partner’s mistress and is briefly magnificent.

There are good things to be found on Tara Road.

When the innocent wife arrives at the grieving American mother’s mansion (with pool) and is greeted by Wax, who takes one look and asks, “Jet lag?”

“No,” the innocent wife says. ”I always look like this.”

You have to love her.

Reviewed on: 04 Mar 2007
Share this with others on...
Tara Road packshot
Love hurts for an innocent wife in Dublin and a grieving mother in New England.
Amazon link

Director: Gillies MacKinnon

Writer: Cynthia Cidre, Shane Connaughton, based on the novel by Maeve Binchy

Starring: Andie MacDowell, Olivia Williams, Iain Glen, Stephen Rea, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Sarah Bolger, August Zirner, Brenda Fricker, Jean-Marc Barr, Heike Makatsch, Bronagh Gallagher, Alan Devlin, Ruby Wax, James Herrick

Year: 2005

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: Ireland


Search database: