Waking Ned Devine
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“There are 6,894,620 reasons for waking Ned.” From the dead, that is, and it’s Irish pounds, cash money, we’re talking about. By the time you’re done watching this movie, you might just believe in leprechauns and that pot of gold after all.

Jackie O’Shea (Ian Bannen) and his best buddy, Michael O’Sullivan (David Kelly), live in the quaint, poor, seaside village of Tullymore, Ireland, and every Saturday night, they play the lottery. One week, they learn that someone from the village has won, but no one’s come forward. These ambitious old guys decide to flush the winner out and charm him into sharing the winnings.

They invite the 18 regular lottery players to a chicken dinner to loosen their tongues—but with no luck. But, at the end of the night, they realize that Ned Devine didn’t show. A visit to Ned’s home finds him sitting there in front of his television, winning ticket in his hand, stone cold dead—the shock of it did him in. That night, Ned appears to Jackie in a dream, insisting that they take his winnings instead. But now they need a much bigger plan.

Waking Ned Devine is like being visited by a leprechaun himself: seductive, funny, and very, very mischievous. As the story moves from a simple mystery (who holds the ticket?) to a £7 million fraud, the action spins wildly in two different directions at once. First, the two buddies have to pull off the scam on the lottery officials. Second, there’s the fact that everyone in town (population: 52) knows who they are—and that neither of them is even remotely dear old Ned.

This is a joyously clever little “black comedy” (okay, green comedy) that will have you wishing there were a Blarney Stone around to kiss (friends will do nicely). It’s also full of goofy, tender little moments among friends, lovers, and the whole colorful community. There’s the requisite love triangle involving a pretty girl, a rich boor, and a handsome, earnest, but much too stinky pig farmer. There’s also a trusty barkeep, a goodhearted priest, and the town’s resident villain—for what’s a great story without one of those? The charming voice of reason is played by the wonderful Fionnula Flanagan as Jackie’s wife, Anna, who tries desperately to curtail her husband’s harebrained scheme.

The town of Tullymore, though fictitious, was actually filmed in Cregneash, on the Isle of Man. It’s a living museum of thatched cottages and farms from the 19th century. The interior and exterior shots, along with breathtaking shore and cliff views, make this film a lush feast for the eyes as well.

Waking Ned Devine is as much fun as you could ask for at any time of the year. But on St. Patrick’s Day, we’re all Irish, and I’m planning to make watching this film an annual event. I’m definitely buying a couple of lottery tickets, too, just in case.

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