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The Last of the High Kings Movie Review

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If anyone decides to do another homage to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, let me suggest Jared Leto for the part of Cesare the somnambulist. With those luminous blue eyes, he's sure to get viewer's pulses racing and he won't even have to pretend to be awake. As Jordan Catalano on My So-Called Life, he was easily the most laid-back member of the cast, but so cute that no one minded his leisurely delivery and pacing. In The Last of the High Kings, his low-key style as Frankie Griffin is totally eclipsed by Catherine O'Hara's dynamic performance as his Ma. Someone who isn't Irish watched this with me and, while raving about O'Hara, said he thought Ma was insane! “Nah, she's just a wild Irish rose,” I kept insisting. Ma used to be an actress, but now she's concerned with raising her brood, rooting for her favorite political darlings, and yelling at “Protestant” outsiders. The stage would really be the best outlet for her extraordinary energy, but circumstances have led her to the inevitable alternative: turning her life into a melodrama. Ma overreacts; she does nothing by halves and she wastes no lavish compliments on her kids that might lead them to believe that life is easier than it is. O'Hara walks into a room and all eyes are chained to her every move; she leaves and it feels like 10 people left with her. And then there is Frankie. Should he have a Beach Party like they do in America? Should he sleep with Jane (Lorraine Pilkington) or try for something more meaningful with Romy (Emily Mortimer)? Christina Ricci appears all too briefly as Erin, an American visitor who tries to loosen Frankie up a bit. He doesn't really come to life until the last 20-odd minutes or so. Executive Producer Gabriel Byrne is actor Jack Griffin, Frankie's Da, Colm Meaney is a lusty politician, and Stephen Rea is a cab driver gabbing for a tip, even when he puts the fare to sleep. Since The Last of the High Kings is set in 1977, the last summer of Elvis Presley's short life, excerpts from his screen test are included in a touching wake on the Beach where the Party was meant to be. David Keating's warm, funny first feature has been re-titled Summer Fling for video, which doesn't suit it at all. Based on the novel by Ferdia Mac Anna. AKA: Summer Fling.

1996 (R) 103m/C IR GB DK Catherine O'Hara, Jared Leto, Christina Ricci, Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Rea, Colm Meaney, Lorraine Pilkington, Jason Barry, Emily Mortimer, Karl Hayden, Ciaran Fitzgerald, Darren Monks, Peter Keating, Alexandra Haughey, Renee Weldon, Amanda Shun; D: David Keating; W: David Keating, Gabriel Byrne; C: Bernd Heinl; M: Michael Convertino. VHS, Closed Caption

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