Evelyn, starring Pierce Brosnan | A Rad Film Review

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Many have suggested Evelyn, as a movie I should watch. It's based on a true story, and stars Pierce Brosnan (ex-007) as a father who (in Ireland in the 50's) was ordered by the court to place his 3 children in Catholic-run orphanages .. after his wife ran off with another man (to Australia).

Evelyn, starring Pierce Brosnan as Desmond DolyeEvelyn is the name of the oldest child (pictured holding her on the cover), whose testimony before the Irish Supreme Court proves decisive.

Normally I'd rather stick needles in my eyes than watch something like this. But I was feeling my oats last night. (Irish oats, that is.)

In the end, Pierce (who plays Desmond Doyle and sports a fine Irish accent) along with his band of rag-tag lawyers take their case to the Irish Supreme Court, where they challenge the constitution itself (something about it being 'repugnant').

I had to pause the DVD a few times, to take a breather, such as when one of the nuns beats little Evelyn so hard her face turns black and blue. (Almost couldn't finish watching.)

The New York Times seems to agree, by saying » "There's little that's quite so shocking as seeing a child beaten in a movie."

But backing up a bit, I must be missing something basic about the story. To be specific, I can't understand why the state/courts seem to conspire with the Catholic church to keep the kids in the orphanages, away from their dad, even after he satisfies all their requests (gets a good job, gives up beer for lemonade, etc.).

Here's the legal glitch » the law contains a stipulation that says BOTH parents must consent before the kids can be removed from the orphanage. But the wife has run off to Australia (the day after Christmas), and not even her parents can find her.

But here's what I don't get » If the wife is MIA, that (alone) shouldn't stop the court and the Church from returning the kids to their dad. I mean, I'm just using basic common sense here. Yet it does (stop them).

Nor can I see any reason why the church and state wouldn't want to do everything within their (considerable) power to reunite the kids with their dad .. especially when they all want to live together.

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So something about the state/court/church relationship seems rotten. A few times during the movie, references are made by those in the know about the church and state being in bed together .. forming the "whole basis of Family law."

Maybe I'm naive, but I would expect the state and (especially) the church to be tripping over one another, doing everything possible to reunite the kids with their dad .. as soon as it is possible. Yet they don't. Oh contraire. They fight tooth-and-nail against it. They even fight dirty .. to keep the kids in the orphanage "until their 16th birthday". (Un-freaking-believable. Yet true.)

I must admit, watching the movie produced similar feelings I've had during some of my own trips to court .. namely the head-scratching phase, where I mutter » "I don't get it. I must be missing something obvious. Because this makes no sense."

In particular, I can't understand how the state/court/church system (which is supposed to champion the interests of children) can fight against what's really important (i.e. » getting the kids back together with their dad as expeditiously as possible) and focus rather on something that seems like a petty technicality (such as a law requiring consent of BOTH parents .. which is impossible when one has left the continent and disappeared).

If there is a hell, I believe it contains an extra hot section specially reserved for people who use their authority and expertise to do everything within their power to try to separate children from their parents who love them .. and an even hotter section for those who hurt defenseless little kids. (And if not, I will personally propose such an upgrade.)

One of the more emotional scenes is where Pierce finds the nun who beat his daughter (after receiving a letter from Evelyn). He grabs the nun by the throat and lifts her off the ground, saying, "If you ever lay a hand on my daughter again, I will tear you limb from limb."

I have sent impassioned letters to my congressman, and to my senator (among other public officials) .. seeking their help in nothing more than seeing the system does right by my son. So I know the frustration (and desperation) that comes when you feel the system is failing your children.

The bottom line is .. we do whatever we must .. for however long it takes. We go talk to whoever we gotta go talk to. This is hard-wired inside us. (Not a conscious decision.)

For more along these lines, here's a Google search preconfigured for the query » evelyn pierce brosnan film movie review family law

UPDATE: Further research reveals that the law (called the Family Act of 1941, which essentially deprived single fathers of the right to care for their children) may have been the result of the Catholic Church's desire to exploit child labor, from which the state may also have benefited.

So it's even worse than I imagined. How ironic they call it the "Family Act."

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I read about the system in ireland 15 years ago, from an article on the subject.

But there are child welfare reform groups in the US as well. I can put you in touch with some in my area. The same thing is happening in the US, in which there's an entrenched institution of children's services, family courts, law guardians, and foster care networks who all profit and stay in business when a child is removed from parental custody.

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on December 23, 2008 7:23 AM.

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