This movie is tragic. Daniel Day Lewis (DDL) is an Irish cripple who draws pictures with one of his feet. As his body fails him, his foot is the only faculty he’s able to maintain mastery over. Via the indomitable will of the unbroken human spirit, he begins creating artwork. His art becomes his self expression–his only cathartic medium. This movie explores what it means to be human and proves to us there is no such thing as a simple character. This film stuck with me. I remember the anguish and the frustration. I remember the inescapable hopelessness of an impoverished family and the story of their son, broken and betrayed by an unyielding fate. I remember the cruel incongruity of body and mind.
In time, Day-Lewis is accused of masterminding an IRA terrorist attack on a Belfast pub. Needing a patsy, British intelligence forces pin the attack on DDL and coerce a full confession. Sentenced and sent to British prison, he is housed with actual IRA masterminds. It is then that he learns the nature of the IRA separatist movement is ugly, chaotic, and reactionary. Ultimately DDL’s dad is arrested and jailed as well. His dad dies, and eventually DDL captivates a nation in his quest for freedom. He is cleared of the false charges, roll credits.
For all its twists and turns, this movie is simply riveting. It is humanity at its most compelling. The only downside is a run-time approaching 6 hours.