by Del Harvey
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In this heart-warming family drama set in a poor rural community in Northern Ireland, 11-year old Mary (Niamh McGirr) lives with parents (Colm Meany and Susan Lynch) on a working farm in Antrim, not far from Belfast. Although “the Troubles” are over, fiscal hardship has found its way to the independent farms in Northern Ireland. Her one escape is racing carts with her school mate and best friend Tom. A local land baron is buying up all the struggling farms in the area. His son is also a huge fan of racing so the father sponsors a race with a grand prize of 200 pounds. Against her father’s stern refusal to do so, and in spite of the marital troubles between her parents, young Mary enters the race. The result is a film which is uplifting and inspirational, and which is sure to have won your heart by the last frame.
The young woman playing Mary, Niamh (pronounced like “Neve”), carries off her role with great success, and makes us believe in her own confidence, no matter how much of it is false bravado. The young supporting cast surrounding her are equally good in contributing to the overall message of the film. And the talents of both Colm Meany, as her stubborn father, and Susan Lynch as her frustrated and confused mother, add just the right touches of depth and sincerity to make this simple but beautifully told story come to life.
Mary’s story is one of determination to succeed and ambition to win in spite of the odds continually tipping against her. The Race satisfies on so many levels and is very much deserving of your attention. It is a wonderful drama, a stirring family film, and a testament to the human spirt.
The Race releases on May 18, 2010, from BFS Entertainment.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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