Evelyn (film)

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For the short film, see Evelyn: The Cutest Evil Dead Girl.
Evelyn film poster.jpg
United States theatrical release poster
Directed by Bruce Beresford
Produced by Pierce Brosnan
Michael Ohoven
Beau St. Clair
Written by Paul Pender
Starring Sophie Vavasseur
Pierce Brosnan
Stephen Rea
Alan Bates
Julianna Margulies
Aidan Quinn
Music by Stephen Endelman
Cinematography André Fleuren
Edited by Humphrey Dixon
Distributed by Pathé Distribution
United Artists
Release dates
  • September 9, 2002 (2002-09-09) (Toronto International Film Festival)
  • December 13, 2002 (2002-12-13) (U.S. limited)
  • March 21, 2003 (2003-03-21) (UK)
Running time
93 minutes
Country Ireland
Language English

Evelyn is a 2002 drama film, loosely based on the true story of Desmond Doyle and his fight in the Irish courts (December, 1955) to be reunited with his children. The film stars Sophie Vavasseur in the title role, Pierce Brosnan as her father and Aidan Quinn, Julianna Margulies, Stephen Rea and Alan Bates as supporters to Doyle's case. The film had a limited release in the United States, starting on December 13, 2002 and was later followed by the United Kingdom release on March 21, 2003.

The film was produced by, with others, Brosnan's own production company, Irish DreamTime. It opened to positive reviews.


Nine-year-old Evelyn Doyle's (Sophie Vavasseur) mother has abandoned the family, leaving her out-of-work father Desmond Doyle (Pierce Brosnan) to bring up Evelyn and her two brothers, Maurice (Hugh MacDonagh) and Dermot (Niall Beagan) on his own. Matters are only made worse when Desmond's mother-in-law (Claire Mullan) reports the abandonment of the children to the authorities. Irish law prohibits children from being brought up in a "broken home", and therefore places these children in Church-run orphanages. Desmond also drinks excessively. Although it is shown that the boy's orphanage is very strict, details are examined in Evelyn's orphanage. She is dropped off by her grandfather (Frank Kelly), who, in attempts to comfort the clearly nervous Evelyn, explains to her that rays of light created by the sun shining in a specific spot through the clouds are called "angel rays," and mean that a guardian angel is watching over her. Evelyn, although momentarily comforted, is brought away by the nuns. She is introduced to a dining hall of girls much like herself. It is revealed that many of them have been in the orphanage for many years due to Irish law. While the children are adjusting to the harsh treatments of Catholic orphanages, Desmond has not been doing well. Desmond, finding no hope in the retrieval of his children and unable to afford a lawyer, has gotten very drunk and tried to punch the innocent Father O'Malley. The father instead punches Desmond. Desmond is helped by the local part-time bartender and chemist, Bernadette (Julianna Margulies). Bernadette tells Desmond to go to her brother's office, who happens to be solicitor (a type of lawyer, although he cannot speak in cases such as these) for help. The solicitor, Michael (Stephen Rea), makes it very clear to Desmond though, that he cannot help him until he gets his act together. This means bringing in a regular income and setting a good example for his children. Desmond does get a painting job and spends nights singing for tips with his father in the pub where Bernadette works. Unfortunately at this time, Evelyn had been having problems with Sister Bridget who beat her after she questioned her authority. Evelyn objected to Sister Bridget (Andrea Irvine) beating her friend who forgot Bible scripture, although the Bible scripture stated that "God is merciful," therefore meaning that He wouldn't want Sister Bridget to beat the children for forgetting scripture. Enraged, Desmond goes to find Evelyn after reading this in a letter that she wrote to him. On his way, he finds Sister Bridget and shakes her while threatening her to never touch his daughter again or he will "tear her limb from limb." This leads to a series of drunken rampages which leads to Bernadette refusing to continue her romantic encounter with Desmond on the grounds that he needs to, essentially, shape up. During this time, Desmond also loses his father when he has a heart attack. Desmond does shape up though, including quitting drinking. Unfortunately, their (now the lawyer and speaker, American Nick Barron (Aidan Quinn), and his old mentor and consultant, injured rugby player and rebel lawyer Thomas Connolly (Alan Bates) plea is rejected by the courts leading Desmond and his children heartbroken and separated. But, that night (the same night Desmond quits drinking) a gambler rigs Desmond to win copious amounts of money to pay for his legal bills. With nowhere to go though, the case seems hopeless until Connolly comes up with the idea of bringing an entirely new issue to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the lack of Desmond's custody with his children goes against the Irish Constitution itself. No one has ever successfully made a statement like this and won. Through publicity, Desmond gets a court hearing where they successfully make their case and Desmond makes a compelling speech to the court. The next day, Evelyn is brought to the stand and told that she was lying about Sister Bridget beating her after Sister Bridget exaggerates her run-in with Desmond and tells a false story about Evelyn's black and blue face. Evelyn, although momentarily confused by this change in events, is comforted by "angel rays," she believes are from her grandfather. Evelyn denies this statement and makes rather hilarious comebacks, unknowingly, to the defense and Sister Bridget. She then finishes it off with a beautiful repeat of her prayer asking to forgive Sister Bridget and insure the prospering of Ireland and its people. Moved, two out of the three judges side with Desmond who not only gets his children back, but finally falls in love with Bernadette. They are shown on Christmas day, celebrating as a family. It is then shown that due to these efforts, many children all across Ireland were reunited with their families due to amends in the Irish Children's Act.

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