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The Snapper Review

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Sharon Curley is pregnant but has taken the unusual step of keeping the baby's father a secret. Instead it is left to her father to try and act as surrogate, with the pregnancy affecting the whole family, each in their own and sometimes surprising way.

★★★★

When finally able to get a word into the non-stop chatter and chaos of the tiny family house, 20-year-old Sharon Curley (Kellegher) announces that she is pregnant and does not intend to reveal the father's name.

While this premise would normally, in British film or TV, lead to kitchen sink misery, The Snapper opts for a semi-comic approach that reveals the underlying strengths of a working class Irish family. Dessie (Meaney), Sharon's dad, is puzzled and of ordinary people doing the right thing. Sympathetic, becoming a surrogate father to the impending child, even studying books on women's health that inspire him to vary sexual techniques with his surprised and pleased wife (McCabe). Sharon, who goes out on the piss well into her ninth month, is less ashamed by pregnancy than she is when people find out the father is not the sailor she has fantasised out of Letter To Brezhnev but the pathetically unappealing, middle-aged coach of her brother's soccer team.

Written by Roddy Doyle from his own novel, this comes after Alan Parker's version of Doyle's The Commitments, with a complex film rights deal forcing the author to change the name of his central family from Rabbitte to Curley, and Meaney returning in modest triumph to the role of the perplexed Dessie. Made for the BBC's Screen Two slot and given a cinema release after its initial telly airing, it has the small scale of a TV production but is none the worse for that.

At once realistic and idealised, this is a rare attempt to make drama of ordinary people doing the right thing. It doesn't clean up its setting too much — though almost everyone is all right at heart — but does present the cramped, overpopulated, hard-drinking, constantly bickering Curley family as a strange sort of Utopia.

Written by Roddy Doyle this was never going to be a depressing tale of single parenthood. Instead we watch through rose-tinted glasses as the ever watchable Colm Meaney bonds with his family over his daughter's pregnancy out of wedlock in Catholic Ireland.

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