Orphans | Chicago Reader

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Not to be confused with Alan J. Pakula's 1987 film of the Lyle Kessler play, this is the directorial debut of Peter Mullan, the striking and charismatic Joe of Ken Loach's My Name Is Joe. Mullan also wrote the script, which seems semiautobiographical, but he doesn't act in his movie. Four adult siblings in Glasgow (Gary Lewis, Douglas Henshall, Rosemarie Stevenson, and Stephen McCole) deal with their mother's death, with varying degrees of inchoate rage and grief, the night before she's buried. The view of life in general and working-class Scots life in particular is so grim that I was reminded at times of Last Exit to Brooklyn. There are comparable moments here when Mullan's sense of the hyperbolic spills over into excess, but I was moved as well as shaken by the experience.

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