This has to be a little known 1980’s movie called ‘Da’ which is a little gem. It stars Martin Sheen and was filmed in Ireland, two automatic points in its favour before we even start! But I have seen over a hundred of Martin’s movies, and this is my favourite of all.
Charlie Tyson, a New York playwright returns to Ireland for his father’s funeral. While at his childhood home, he ‘meets’ his father’s spirit and re-lives some of the defining moments of his often turbulent relationship with his father.
The whole movie is a total delight. Martin is obviously enjoying it immensely, and his portrayal of the playwright revisiting various turning points in his youth ranges from nostalgic to frustrated to angry, and finally to acceptance. His father, the 'Da' of the title, is played superbly by Barnard Hughes. He is an irascible old man who has been content to spend his life as a gardener for the ‘quality’ and who doesn’t understand Charlie’s need to better himself.
The switches between past and present are seamless and believable, highlighting the fact that we are seeing it all through Charlie’s memories. There’s a perfect mixture of laughter and sadness, and the interaction between Charlie and his younger self (played extremely well by a young actor called Karl Hayden) provide some of the funniest moments of the movie.
The location shots are filmed in and around the small town of Dalkey, a few miles south of Dublin, and show some of the beauty of the surrounding area, particularly Killiney Bay with the Wicklow Mountains in the distance.
If you can get hold of a copy of this movie, I promise you that you won’t be disappointed.