The Mighty Celt

The Mighty Celt


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Memories of Kes come flooding.

Of course, it's different. Not a bird, but a dog. Not the North of England, but the North of Ireland. Which means the Troubles. Or, as those who were involved like to call it, The War.

There's a boy - there's always a boy - and he lives with his mum in a working-class estate. In his spare time, he helps Joe (Ken Stott) with his greyhounds. The boy's name is Donal. He looks about 12 and never knew his da.

Ken is a hard man. He hates the peace and drowns his dogs if they don't win. When O (Robert Carlyle) returns, it changes things. He used to go with Kate (Gillian Anderson), Donal's mum, and was with Donal's uncle when he was killed. After that, he left, disappeared. Kate never forgave him. Hard men like Joe call him "traitor." He believes in the peace.

Although this is Donal's story and the story of the dog, The Mighty Celt, that he saves from the lake to train to become a winner, it is also O and Kate's story. Everything that breathes requires redemption and many don't find it; many don't find love. "You're soft, son," Joe tells Donal. "Soft as putty."

What the film needs is Ken Loach's eye and Roddy Doyle's heart. Writer/director Pearse Elliot is a length off the pace. Despite Joe's bitter soul, the script starts to sink in putty and there's nothing anyone can do.

Tyrone McKenna is excellent as Donal, neither too brave, nor too fearful. Carlisle has a sensitivity that is difficult to resist, almost too easy, it seems, as if the IRA activist has metamorphosed into a saint. Anderson, determined to throw off the mantle of Agent Scully, is totally convincing as a Belfast single mum, fagged up, defensive and strong.

Despite the performances, The Mighty Celt cannot shake off that feeling of having been here before.

Reviewed on: 29 Aug 2005
Share this with others on...
The Mighty Celt packshot
A boy and his dog in the wake of an IRA ceasefire in Northern Ireland.
Amazon link

Director: Pearse Elliott

Writer: Pearse Elliott

Starring: Robert Carlyle, Gillian Anderson, Ken Stott, Tyrone McKenna

Year: 2005

Runtime: 82 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: Ireland


Search database: