The monotony of a country Divided

A Love Divided (Ireland)

Directed by Sydney McCartney

(Orla Brady, Liam Cunningham, Tony Doyle, Peter Caffrey)


Based on a true story, A Love Divided attempts to win its audience over with a few scenes of playful family bonding in the Irish countryside. The lighthearted joy is brief, as the character of Sheila Cloney (Orla Brady) hints in the opening voice-over at the true nature of the film that will unfold.

When she and her husband, Sean Cloney (Liam Cunningham), are married, she agrees to raise her children Catholic, as all Protestants must do to marry a Catholic in the eyes of God in 1950s Ireland. Sheila reneges on her agreement when the time comes to send their children to a Catholic school. She runs to Belfast, before fleeing the country for Scotland, fearing that she can never win her fight against the church in an Irish (and predominately Catholic) court.

No sooner than A Love Divided gets under way, are my hopes for a Ballykissangel-esque portrait of small-town Ireland (complete with Peter Caffrey and Tony Doyle) shot down. Replacing these hopes is a film steeped in the utterly unenjoyable (and often aggravating) conflict between Irish-Catholics and Irish-Protestants and the archaic Catholic marriage clause.

As the extreme prejudice of the Catholic townsfolk – led by the spiteful Father Stafford (Doyle), and even more intolerant Bishop Staunton (John Kavanaugh) – rears its ugly head, the story becomes bogged down in the tired stereotypes of the Irish. From Irishmen filled to the brim with ire, to the most hackneyed of all Irish cinematic themes – the conflict between Catholics and Protestants – A Love Divided makes no attempt at breaking new ground.

Each enjoyable moment in this film, such as the silencing of a Catholic mob with a revolver or the predictable but fulfilling final act, is countered by three times as many irritating ones. As Sheila’s father had uttered the words, “In the name of God, stop this nonsense,” I couldn’t help but wish the director, Sydney McCartney, had done so before the film went into production.

– Josh Duggan


A Love Divided opens today at the U Film’s Bell Auditorium.