In the opening scene of this heart-affecting Irish film, Winnie (Winnie Maughan), a ten year old who lives with her mother Rosie (Rosie Maughan) and two sisters in a trailer in Dublin, has her palm read by a fortune teller. The old woman tells her that she's at a crossroads in her life and that she should follow her head rather than her heart.
This reading turns out to be right on the mark. Winnie has been suspended from school for fighting with those who call her names. In her spare time, she does some shoplifting, sniffs solvents, and visits an amusement arcade after retrieving some coins from a fountain. Her older sister pulls a fast one on her by leaving when Winnie is inside a recycling bin that is filled with cast-away clothing; the young girl can't get out by herself.
There are women who reach out to Winnie but she doesn't seem to respond to their compassionate efforts. A store clerk gives her a picture of Ganesh to hang over her bed and explains that it is Hindu god who can watch over her. A nurse conducts a physical exam and introduces the girl to her own heartbeat.
Rosie, who is illiterate, and her daughters are Irish Travellers, a minority group with a nomadic lifestyle that does not sit well with members of the "settled" population. They face the same prejudice as the European Roma and Gypsy populations throughout the world. A smart and accomplished young woman who calls herself a Travellers activist stops by and tries to assist Rosie and her daughters. But things go from bad to worse when their trailer is moved to a bad location without running water nearby. They worry about the rats in the industrialized area. Rosie spends most evenings drinking with her friends. Meanwhile, Winnie true to the words of the fortune teller flounders at the crossroads of her life, unsure which way to go.
Pavee Lackeen, directed by Perry Ogden, is a harrowing portrait of a confused young girl whose life and choices are constricted by her environment. The director collaborated with his cast, most of them nonprofessionals and Travellers, to create the characters and the storyline.
Originally screened at the New Directors/New Films Festival 2006 in New York City. Museum of Modern Art.