Nineteen year old Danny Flynn is imprisoned for his involvement with the IRA in Belfast. He leaves behind his family and his fourteen year old girlfriend, Maggie. Fourteen years later, Danny is released from prison and returns to his old working class neighborhood to resume his life as a boxer.
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Despite the (mostly) aggressive and negative portrait the IRA, with no real emphasis on the atrocious behaviour of the loyalists, this film is a hauntingly beautiful tale of longing and redemption. Day-Lewis and Watson are electric - the former delivers a scene-stealing performance as the lovelorn Maggie. The gritty, war-torn atmosphere is achieved nicely, and the cinematography is cold and bleak. Simply masterful.
In my book, this is the single most accurate physical embodiment of a boxer ever captured on film. Even though the script does not wrap me up emotionally, every movement of Lewis' Danny Flynn feels straight out of a run down gym. I don't sing rapturous praise of the storytelling, but goddamn does Day Lewis have some scenes.
Despite lacking a central narrative focal point, the story is wholly driven by a terrific performance by Daniel Day-Lewis and a great one by Emily Watson. Ken Stott is a pleasant surprise, standing toe-to-toe with Day-Lewis in practically every scene.