Friday, December 07, 2012


The Hanging Garden 1997

Ten years after fleeing home, the once fat gay boy returns to his foul-mouthed dysfunctional shanty* Irish family on the coast of Nova Scotia. Now trim and fit, he faces the ghosts of his unhappy past. Who are all alive.

Mixes the present, memory and fantasy. The Hanging Garden is a play on words.

Certainly no flattering portrait of the Irish. Rednecks, Hibernian version. Although the setting is beautiful and they have a nice enough house (and garden), the casual daily meanness and emotional brutality --along with drinking, the occasional smack in the mouth, and superstition-- reminds me of McCourt's Angela's Ashes, which itself could have been played in an all-Black version set in the ghetto.

My usual complaint about sloppiness and laziness in depicting religion. This is clearly a Catholic family but the "priest" at the wedding is dressed like a 19th century Methodist minister and conducts a completely un-Catholic ceremony in the family backyard, which ain't done. But the take on religion is decidedly negative, so it might be intentional.

In the end, the former gay victim is pretty well the only one who escapes from the family, as a survivor hero, morally superior to them all.

*At least as I remember it, the classes of Irish in America (can't speak for the folks in the Old Country) were lace-curtain, shanty and bog: those with pretensions to respectability, those who lived in (or lived as if they lived in) poor housing and those who acted as if they worked in the bogs cutting peat for fuel.

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