Director Bruce Beresford, who absconded from Australia to a successful career in the United States, makes of Evelyn a gratifying story of virtue rewarded. For all his faults and weaknesses, Desmond is a loving man whose determination to get his children back is contagious. He recruits a morose solicitor named Michael Beattie (Rea), an Irish-American barrister named Nick Barron (Quinn), and a legendary rugby player named Tom Connolly (Bates) to help in the campaign. He even wins the heart of Bernardette Beattie (Margulies), the barmaid who cajoles him into giving up the bottle. He charms a nation following his ordeal on primitive TV.
Much of Evelyn is sweet blarney built on Irish stereotypes, including adorable tipplers and stern nuns. Young Evelyn's belief that "angel rays" guard her life turns history into fairy tale. Doyle's solicitor warns him that, "The law and justice are two entirely different things." They end up being identical in this cheerful Christmas offering.
REVIEWED BY STEVEN G. KELLMAN