How Harry Became a Tree | Chicago Reader

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Set in the uneasy aftermath of the civil conflict that divided Ireland in the early 20th century, this absorbing Irish drama (2001) stars Colm Meaney as the title character, a belligerent cabbage farmer who tries to draw his son, the son's young bride, and the rest of the town of Skillet into his long-standing feud with a local pub owner (Adrian Dunbar). Harry's older son lies six feet under, “full of English bullets,” and his wife has died of grief. The younger son, dull-witted but handsome, takes a fancy to the pub owner's new maid, so Harry cuts a deal with his nemesis to permit the marriage in exchange for half his cabbage crop—an arrangement that quickly turns sour. Meaney gives a galvanic performance as Harry, whose spite is the only thing holding his anguish at bay; the rest of the cast is uniformly excellent. Director Goran Paskaljevic, a native of Serbia, contributed to the screenplay, which was adapted from a Chinese folktale; its cultural mutability is a tragic commentary in itself. 100 min.

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