I had been waiting to see this movie for six months, and thanks to the kindness of strangers, a showing was arranged on campus. After months of reading reviews and contenting myself with watching the trailer and assorted clips, I finally had the chance to become acquainted with Rory O'Shea.
"Rory O'Shea Was Here" centers on the lives of two young men trapped in Carrigmore, a Dublin care home "for special people." Lifelong resident Michael Connelly has cerebral palsy, which leaves him with tremors, limited manual dexterity (he is a wheelchair user), and a severe speech impairment. Abandoned by his famous barrister father, quiet, shy Michael is intelligent, but is frustrated by his lack of ability to communicate. He is reduced to pointing at letters on a chart, since his speech comes out as a series of grunts and moans. He has resigned himself to a dull existence at Carrigmore, forced to watch children's cartoons with the other patients.
All of this changes with the arrival of Rory O'Shea, a twenty-year-old punk in a motorized wheelchair, completely paralyzed except for two fingers by advanced Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Rory bursts into placid Carrigmore like an angry whirlwind, all leather, spiked hair, and a nose ring, offering a scathing nonstop commentary. He quickly angers supervisor Eileen (Brenda Fricker, My Left Foot) by blasting Slipknot in the middle of the night, and seeks an accomplice to gel his hair once the nurses are banned to do so.
Quiet, rule-abiding Michael resents the loud, obnoxious Rory, until he discovers that Rory can understand his laboured speech and act as his interpreter. Michael becomes Rory's partner in crime as the two sneak off on a pub crawl during a collection, cementing an unlikely friendship and giving Michael a taste of the world outside. Michael is inspired to apply for an independent living grant so that the two can have their own flat and carer (Rory has been turned down three times for his irresponsibility), on the condition that Rory comes with him to serve as interpreter.
The rest of the film centers on their adjustments to living on their own, and the daily trials and tribulations the two face. They hire Siobhan, a beautiful young woman that they met at a club, as their live-in carer. At first, the threesome share in good times, feasting on delicacies and going for walks in the park, but the two men soon fall for Siobhan, Michael openly and Rory secretly. We are witness to Michael's painful humiliation and Rory's broken heart, hidden by venomous comments and a tough exterior. The growing tension threatens to rip the fabric of their new life apart, but it takes a crisis to show them the meaning of friendship.
Rory and Michael teach us important lessons through the tears and smiles: to accept without pitying, to live every day to its fullest, to not be afraid to take chances. The film walks a delicate line between humor and drama, with plenty of searing one-liners from Rory and more serious reflections on abandonment, fear, and loneliness. By the end of the film, there is no doubt that "Rory O'Shea Was Here."
("Rory O'Shea Was Here" will be released on DVD on June 14, containing trailers, outtakes, and an alternate ending. The film is rated R and contains several sexually suggestive scenes and a good deal of profanity.)