The General
*** GM
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Angeline Ball, Jon Voight


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I think I want to be an Irish criminal legend.

Apparently, if you're a balding, chubby man in Ireland that has a knack for grand theft and other unsavory illegalities, you can get a pair of attractive sisters (Maria Doyle Kennedy and Angeline Ball) to share you and bear your children. Perhaps this is what makes Martin Cahill (Brendan Gleeson) the legend he became.

There's also the matter of the daring and risky robberies he managed to pull off under the nose of Inspector Ned Kenny (Jon Voight) during his career as a criminal mastermind, the intense secrecy he struggled to maintain and the highly publicized courtroom shenanigans that he pulled to keep himself out of jail and to keep his unemployment checks coming in. Maybe that's why they called him The General.

Director/Writer/Producer John Boorman's film paints an interesting picture of the charismatic and enigmatic Cahill, the man that continually stunned unstable Ireland in the 1980s and became an even greater legend after his death in 1994. Gleeson does a great job, portraying him with an aversion to the more gruesome aspects of his line of work, a strong distatse for authority, genuine love and camaraderie with his partners in crime, a great sense of humor and a strong love for his family. His slow descent into extreme paranoia and health problems feels long overdue for the kind of life he led, but is tragic nevertheless.

The main problem I had with the film was purely my own fault. Being an uncultured gringo, I had a bit of trouble following and deciphering the accents that everybody spoke in. I knew what was going on, but the dialog I DID catch made me wish I could understand all of it. Perhaps I missed the explanation for why he gets to nail both of these women with their full consent.

Guess they didn't call him a mastermind for nothing.

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