CAL. HELEN MIRREN
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Cal, a young man on the fringes of the IRA, falls in love with Marcella, a Catholic woman whose husband, a Protestant policeman, was killed one year earlier by the IRA.
Tags: ira ireland helen mirren troubles cal movie trailer irish movies john lynch dublin cold blood murder
Added: 3 years ago
[Cal and Marcella stare lovingly into each other's eyes]
MARCELLA: Would you die for me?
[he says nothing (flashing back to the day he drove the car that led to her husband's death), so she kisses his hand and then gets on the bed and begins taking off her shoes]
[cut to a closeup of Cal's face, then back to Marcella as she takes off her skirt and panties]
[cut back to Cal, as he unbuttons his shirt (with another flashback to the day of her husband's death)]
[cut back to Marcella (totally nude) as she gets under the covers]
[cut to a closeup of the headlights of the car, then back to Cal as he takes off his underwear and gets in bed next to Marcella]
[cut back and forth between more flashbacks (of Cal waiting behind the wheel of the car) and more scenes of Cal and Marcella making love]
[cut to Cal watching in the rain as Marcella's husband opens the door of his home, only to find the gunman (with a bandana over his mouth) as he fires two shots before his gun jams]
MARCELLA'S HUSBAND: [weakly] Marcella ...
[cut to a closeup of the gun]
MARCELLA'S HUSBAND: Marcella ...
[the gunman fires once more (splattering the back of the man's head against the wall behind him), then cut back to Cal and Marcella kissing passionately (the sounds of her husband's death gurgles still audible)]
[cut back to the shooting, as Marcella's husband slumps down to the floor, as an older man appears from downstairs to investigate the commotion (and the gunman is forced to shoot him as well)]
[cut to outside of the home, as Cal watches the gunman run back to the car (while the sound of Marcella screaming in terror can be heard in the background)]
Cal is a 1984 Irish drama film directed by Pat O'Connor and starring John Lynch and Helen Mirren. Based on the novella Cal written by Bernard MacLaverty who also wrote the script, the film was entered into the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, where Helen Mirren won the award for Best Actress.
Cal (John Lynch) is a young Catholic member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in 1970s Northern Ireland. He is used as a driver on a nighttime murder of a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The murder takes place at the victim's home in view of his family. The victim's dying words are a call for his wife, Marcella.
One year later, Cal learns that the victim's widow is a librarian, Marcella (Helen Mirren), a Catholic woman. Burdened with guilt over his role in the murder, Cal tries to leave the IRA, but is pressured to remain a member. He and his father live in the city, where they are threatened with loyalist gangs and Orange Order marches on their street. Wishing to atone in some way for assisting in the murder of Marcella's husband, Cal seeks work in her family's Protestant home. Initially he works as a hand on their farm, and later moves into a small cottage on their land. Marcella is not happy in her home, feeling trapped by her deceased husband's family. Over time, Cal and Marcella begin a love affair - with Marcella unaware of Cal's role in her husband's death.
Eventually, Cal is found by his IRA unit and is threatened with murder if he does not continue working as a driver. While he is Christmas shopping for Marcella and her child, he is abducted by the IRA. The car is stopped by a British Army checkpoint. In the ensuing gunfire, Cal escapes and makes his way to Marcella's home, where he confesses his role in the murder. Cal is pursued to the house by the RUC, and in the film's final scene both Cal and Marcella are seen in their respective "prisons" - Cal on his way to prison in a police van, and Marcella on her way back to her in-laws' home.
Northern Ireland's politics don't loom too large in a film that on release felt like a breath of fresh air in a largely stagnant period for UK and Irish cinema. Cal (a Catholic) falls passionately for Marcella, a Catholic librarian whose protestant husband was recently killed by an IRA gun-man. It was Cal who drove the killer's car. Helen Mirren won best actress at Cannes but it's John Lynch's guilty haunted face and Bernard MacLaverty's screenplay that stand out most in O'Connor's most dynamic and engaging feature.
"Cal" tells a story that has been told many times before, but tells it quietly and powerfully about a particular time and place: Northern Ireland in the 1980s. The story is about two lovers who want to wrap themselves in each other's arms and let the world go by, and about how the world refuses to let them do that. It is a little amazing, given how old this formula is, that "Cal" works as well as it does, perhaps because no story is old if it happens to new people. The Cal of this title is a young Catholic man from Northern Ireland. He has a lot on his conscience. Not long before the story opens, he drove the car on an IRA raid that resulted in a man being murdered. He would like to forget that. He would also like to draw back from the IRA -- he's not particularly political -- and get on with his life. But it doesn't work out that way.
He is in the library one day, and hears the new librarian say something. The way that she says it instantly enchants him. He finds out her name, Marcella, and some information about her: She is a Catholic, half Irish, half Italian, who lives with her Protestant in-laws on a farm outside of town. Her husband, a policeman, was killed by the IRA not long ago, and she has started to support herself.
Cal puts himself in Marcella's way. He spends more time at the library. He eventually talks himself into a job on the farm where she lives. And then, after Protestants fire-bomb the cottage where he lives with his father, Cal goes to live secretly in an abandoned barn on the farm; Marcella's in-laws have no idea he isn't going home at night.
They also have no idea that Marcella and Cal are having an affair, but that is what shyly, clumsily, against her better judgment, they do. They are both so desperately alienated that love for them begins with somebody to share a smile with.
The love scenes in "Cal" are among the loveliest I've seen, because Helen Mirren, who plays Marcella, makes her such a sweet and tender woman, and John Lynch, who plays Cal, is so touchingly sincere. He knows a lot about toughness and a lot about cynicism, but very little about the way love can make you feel. If Cal and Marcella's love story were the center of the movie, "Cal" would not, however, be very interesting. What the movie is really about is the way in which their love cannot be the center of their lives, because of the society they live in and the actions that they both have already taken. Cal's old IRA friends are not prepared to let him off the hook. Marcella's in-laws believe their son would still be alive if he had not married a Catholic. The household is a world of closed-in feelings, words not spoken, and festering psychic wounds.
There is a way, I suppose, in which we could argue that Cal and Marcella deserve to be doomed lovers -- that they have to accept the consequences of their actions. But the real story, of course, is that some people are unlucky enough to live in times and places where their actions do have tragic consequences.
The argument in "Cal" is that in a situation like the one they find themselves in, it is impossible to be a bystander. The lines are drawn between Catholic and Protestant, and you are on one side or the other no matter what you think or how you choose. It is a waste of time to dream of private lives, private decisions, and the luxury of love; other people are thinking of more violent things, and they will walk right over you.