Cleveland International Film Festival } March 22 – April 1, 2023 } Playhouse Square


Year: 1984
Country: Ireland
Run Time: 103 minutes


Graduating from film and television studies in 1969, Irish director Pat O'Connor won prestigious awards in Europe and the U.S. for his documentaries and TV dramas. His reputation for sensitive character devlopment and a keen sense of politics led to the choice of O'Connor to direct CAL, his first feature. The ongoing "troubles" suffered by Northern Ireland are depicted in a gripping, documentary style that lends a sense of authenticity to both the political and personal tragedies of CAL. In the film's opening scene, the subjective camera puts the audience behind the wheel of a car, making us accomplices, like Cal (John Lynch), to an IRA killing of a policeman. As the killer's driver, Cal's never-ending guilt over the event is magnified by his eventual love affair with the policeman's widow, Marcella (Helen Mirren), who doesn't know of Cal's role in the murder. Their lovemaking is intercut with repeated images of the death scene in Cal's tormented mind. Cal is unwillingly involved with more violence, this time between the IRA and British soldiers. Like Ulster itself, the lovers are finally divided by bloodshed caused by warring political, social and religious forces. Without making moral judgments, O'Connor subtly conveys the horror of a place where all are victims.

". . .Passionate performances. . expertly plotted. . .O'Connor has combined beautiful photography, dramatic lighting, and subtle sound effects to create not a moving image, but a living environment. . ." -Films in Review

". . .Palpable, mounting tension. . .What makes CAL so outstandingly good is the haunting delicacy with which it frames its central situation." -Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Bernard MacLaverty (based on his novel)

Stuart Craig, David Puttnam

Jerzy Zielinski

Michael Bradsell

Principal Cast
Helen Mirren, John Lynch, Donal McCann, John Kavanagh

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