September 27, 2016 Rory O’Shea Was Here – An Exploration Into The Human Soul
Hollywood would have audiences think of Horror in terms of Slashers like Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise, Jason from the Friday the 13th franchise, or even Norman Bates, who was based on real-life killer Ed Gein, from the Psycho franchise, to war movies. Though many are true, they tend to focus on blood and gore. What about the film that has none of that, that is just about life and the every day struggles? Released on February 4th of 2005 in the USA, Rory O’Shea Was Here (Inside I’m Dancing), aka Inside I’m Dancing, is not a Horror film, but a exploration into the human soul all while offering a heavy dose of reality.
A Sleeper of sorts, Rory O’Shea Was Here was directed by Damien O’Donnell (East is East 1999, How Was Your Day? short 2015) and co-produced by James Flynn (Sunset Heights 1999, Tomato Red 2016) along with Juanita Wilson (H3 2001) from a script written by Jeffrey Caine (Goldeneye 1995, Exodus: Gods and Kings 2014) based on the story by Christian O’Reilly (The Birthday short 2001, Sanctuary 2016). The film was distributed by Universal Pictures/Momentum Pictures.
In Dublin, Rory O’Shea (James McAvoy: The Near Room 1995, X-Men: Apocalypse 2016) is a free-thinking, independent guy…at least as independent as his wheelchair will allow him. Rory has Muscular Dystrophy. He meets Michael Connolly (Steven Robertson: Kingdom of Heaven 2005, Somnambulists 2012), an always been sheltered guy with Cerebral Palsy at the Carrigmore Residential Home he has been placed in since his care has gotten more complicated and his application to live independently has been denied…again. He devises a plan to get out of the nursing home with the help of Michael, so they can live life on their terms. But, will they be able to make their dreams come true before it is too late?
With the recent spate of untimely celebrity deaths, people are taking stock, and realizing the horror that tomorrow is not promised to anyone. So it is in Rory O’Shea Was Here. Muscular Dystrophy is the weakening of all muscle in the body, ultimately ending in death from a massive heart attack or fluid backing up in the lungs. Duchenne’s, which Rory has, starts showing when a child starts walking, progressively worsening until they die in their twenties at best. Rory is truly living on borrowed time, and he knows it. That is why his freedom is so important to him.
At the start of the film, Rory’s freedom is jeopardized when his dad (Tom Hickey: My Left Foot 1989, Breakfast on Pluto 2005) puts him in a nursing home run by the domineering, yet caring, but naïve, able-bodied Eileen (Brenda Fricker: My Left Foot 1989, A Long Way from Home 2013). Feeling like he is literally wasting away since, besides being in a wheelchair, his mind is fine. He immediately makes her life hell, being all the smartass he can be as he sees her as hampering his independence. He proves helpful when he translates what fellow resident, Michael; whose CP makes his limbs spastic as well as affecting his speech, is trying to say to an aide on first meeting him. Soon, they strike up a friendship/symbiotic relationship. Rory sees Michael as his ticket to freedom, if they work together, to get an application for independent living passed.
The film’s setup in and of itself is not horrific. The horror begins with life and people, as well-meaning as they seem, seeming to hamper, if not outright, prevent him from truly living. First, the board of Independent Living Allowance keep denying his application, because of “bad judgment calls,” with offers to try again in six months. It’s obvious they have no intention of granting it to him. However, when Michael, who is technically more mobile than Rory, gets a pass with Rory translating for him, they have to find a place that is not only accessible, but can accommodate two wheelchairs.
This proves harder than the guys think since they are physically challenged living in an able-bodied world. One sequence portrays a realtor showing the guys an apartment with steps leading to the door, to which Rory says, “There’s a bit of a problem. Can you guess what it is?” Eventually, they find a flat, but they know they need a caregiver to help. They meet and court the beautiful Siobhan (Romoli Garai: Nicholas Nickleby 2002, Suffragette 2015), who reluctantly accepts the position.
Things look like they are turning up for the trio, aside from Rory getting worse little by little. Of course, there is casual flirting between the three, but Siobhan takes it in stride, probably not meaning to take their feelings for granted. Then, at a Halloween party, things come to a head when Michael and Siobhan dance. He tries to make his move, freaking Siobhan out and effectively killing the working relationship, as well as sending Michael into a tailspin with suicidal tendencies. Rory has to talk him out of it in the rain with new caregiver Peter (Ofo Uhiara: Luck Break 2001, Therapist short 2011), setting the domino effect in motion. Rory’s time is quickly running out.
The striking part, many have lived through this in real life and can scarily relate to just about everything that happened in the film, including hindrances of everyday life, down to death. Rory O’Shea Was Here portrays everything so accurately with McAvoy’s and Robertson’s portrayals so spot on that one would have to check if they weren’t born crips. Despite the depiction of the horror of the inevitable young death in Rory, the film can serve as a “grounding movie” in our household for those facing these struggles in real life when they are feeling sorry for themselves. Ultimately, Michael learns to take life by the horns with their final exchange when Rory says, “Rory O’Shea was here,” and Michael replies, pointing to his own heart, “Rory O’Shea is here.”