(TORONTO, ON) – You’ll be holding your breath too. A young Irish couple Gainead (Sam Keeley) and Nancy (Barbara Brennan) sit on their living room couch in Dublin on June 25, 1990, preparing to watch a soccer match between Romania and Ireland. The winner will head into the quarter finals of the World Cup.
Nancy goes into labour just prior to the start of the match and the couple rush to the hospital, where the few staff that are not at home watching the match are bemoaning the fact they are stuck working.
Nancy sends Gainead to the patient lounge to find out the score. A group of patients and hospital staff assemble in front of a dying television set.
A grandmother with her two grandchildren are the first to arrive in the lounge after Gainead. She promptly pulls out a mickey of whisky and a pack of smokes. More staff and patients arrive.
A nurse arrives to advise Gainead the baby is in distress and he should remain in the patient lounge.
The match goes into penalty kicks and Ireland’s David O’Leary has a chance to win it all. The tension is high and then, in slow motion, a nurse arrives to whisper something in Gainead’s ear. Has the baby died?
By this point you’ll be holding your breath about both the match and the baby’s health.
As Gainead is walking to the maternity ward to visit Nancy, O’Leary scores the winning goal and the crowd at the match and the occupants of the patient lounge go ballistic. A joyous day for Ireland that can now breathe easy.
But, what about the baby?
Gainead enters the maternity ward and gives Nancy a big hug. There is no baby to be seen. Is there tragedy within triumph?
I won’t reveal the ending, but let’s just say there is a baby born in Dublin, on June 25, 1990, named David O’Leary.
A classic of dual anticipatory events within the same plot line.
(A Nation Holds its Breath, director Kev Kahill, Ireland, 20 minutes, part of the Toronto Irish Film Festival’s Short Showcase, 4 March 2017, 7:00pm, Bell Tiff Lightbox, Toronto)