Although this film contains a number of historical inaccuracies, I like it because it gives a fairly good snapshot of Irish political history and struggle in the early part of the 20th century. It speaks to the fact that both the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil war were largely led by and fought by young people. In fact the main protagonist of the film, Michael Collins, was killed during the civil war at the age of 31, just two months before his 32nd birthday. The film also gives some insight into personal disagreements and divisions within the ranks of those leading the fight to free Ireland. As the ensuing Civil War demonstrated, not everyone agreed on the outcome of the Free State of Ireland.
Shot in Dublin County, over a period of seventeen days with a budget of only $150,000, this is the tale of a short term, but nonetheless deep bond that builds between a Dublin busker (Glen Hansard) and a Czech flower seller/piano player (Marketa Irglova). Over the course of only one week, these two form a meaningful relationship based on their mutual love of music. I like this movie because of its feeling of authenticity. It was shot on the streets of Dublin, in its shops, and on the back roads of County Dublin. In particular, Grafton Street figures prominently; it is a pedestrian only shopping area where on any given day you can see all manner of buskers entertaining the shoppers.
Although this film is not set in Ireland, it is the story of an Irish family. Led by a father who is an aspiring actor, the family illegally immigrates to the United States in search of the "American Dream". The father, played by English born actor Paddy Considine, dreams of getting his big break in the New York City theatre scene. Once they arrive in the big city, they move into an apartment in a building populated principally by drug addicts and thieves. They try to make it truly their home. Their struggles are many, including the personal struggle of dealing with the loss of a child who died. The role of the mother is beautifully portrayed by English born actor Samantha Morton, and the young daughters are brilliantly portrayed by Sarah and Emma Bolger. This film was written by Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan, and his daughters Naomi and Kristen, and in many ways speaks to their personal experiences early on "in America" as struggling immigrants living in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City.