(TORONTO, ON) – Once again the Irish Film Festival makes an appearance in Toronto. These are very good films, but simply do not have the caché of an Hollywood film.
Of course, that is your choice as a filmgoer. You as the audience make a film popular. If you choose to be swept aside in the commercial tide of American films, you miss so much.
The Flag is a delightful caper movie, meaning there is a criminal goal in mind and a well-planned effort by a group to achieve the illicit goal; like The Italian Job, The Great Train Robbery, or Ocean’s Eleven.
In this case, the group is out to regain an Irish flag which was hoisted at the General Post Office in Dublin during the 1916 rebellion against British rule. On April 24th 1916, a small Irish rebellion flared in Dublin where a couple thousand Irish patriots seized control of various public buildings.
Over 2,000 were injured and 450 or so killed and the rebellion was quickly quashed by the British. Many of the leaders were executed by the Brits and countless others transported to England for incarceration.
Those who died were quickly hailed as martyrs and, in 1922, the Irish Free State was created by treaty with Britain, and the Republic of Ireland was created in 1949. The 1916 rebellion is held dear by the Irish.
Harry Hambridge (Pat Shortt) lives in London and, like many Irish, are involved in construction until he loses his job, his hamster, and his father on the same day. Back to Ireland he goes to pay his respects and meets his old pal Mouse Morrissey (Moe Dunford).
They discover a letter from Harry’s grandfather claiming to have raised the Irish flag at the GPO during the uprising. The letter states the flag was signed by grandpa and was eventually taken to an army barracks in England where it was hung upside down in the officer’s mess as a sign of disrespect.
Besotted by drink, Harry proclaims he will recover the flag and bring it to Dublin where it will fly at the GPO on April 24, 2016, the 100th anniversary of the uprising.
Harry and Mouse go to London to speak to an official in Her Majesty’s government who outright lies to the lads; there is no such flag. The truth is, these London politicians mock the Irish, and Harry is locked a washroom cubicle.
Lesson #1: never trust a British politician when it is a matter of dealing with Ireland.
Harry and Mouse meet up in London with a group of Irish lads and lassies and the caper is planned. The caper is a bit predictable as well as dotted by a couple of love interests.
Harry is just about stabbed by some thugs for wearing an Irish soccer T-shirt. They hurl insults at the filthy Paddy.
Lesson #2: never completely trust a Brit with a Paddy.
Lesson #3: some Brits do sympathize with the Irish, as can be seen post caper.
The scheme goes well and the flag is returned to Dublin for the 2016 commemorative ceremony. Harry is a hero and expresses some apology to the Brits for stealing the flag, however proclaiming himself an Irishman.
Lesson #4: the Irish are a forgiving people.
Lesson #5: above all they are Irish and proud.
Lesson #6: the Irish make a damn good caper film.
The film is neither original nor brilliant in plot development, but it is a satisfying feel-good movie. This is unless you are a Brit who despises the Irish.
Solid performances by all.
(The Flag, 2016, director Declan Recks, Ireland, 84 minutes, Canadian Premiere 4 March 2017, 4:00pm, Bell TIFF Lightbox, Toronto)