Beatrice Bruteau, a seasoned spiritual writer, has observed: "I think most of the spiritual life is really a matter of relaxing letting go, ceasing to cling, ceasing to insist on our own way, ceasing to tense ourselves up against this or against that." True words. So much of the unhappiness and suffering in our lives stems from our refusal to lay down grudges, resentments, and the pains we accumulated years ago. We carry these burdens as if their negative energy were an essential part of our lives. This is the case with three of the lead characters in this engaging and well-done drama directed by John Irvin from a screenplay by Nicholas Adams.
Years ago in Ireland, Jimmy (Colm Meaney) fell in love with his brother John Joe's (Bernard Hill) girlfriend Maisie (Charlotte Bradley). She was swept away by him and stunned when he abandoned her for a new life on his own in Liverpool. Maisie raised her daughter Anne (Andrea Corr) alone and refused to let go of the anguish and loneliness of her situation. John Joe also felt betrayed by his brother and isolated himself on a farm by the sea. His only solace was music.
John Joe formed a Ceili band to play traditional Irish folk music. Maisie on piano and Anne playing fiddle are the most gifted musicians in the group. After winning the last national Ceili competition, they are hoping to repeat. Then comes the news that the prosperous Jimmy has formed his own band and is bringing them from Liverpool. He waited 20 years to show John Joe that he is a better musician, and he expects to win the competition. His prize musician is Teddy (Shaun Evans), a flute player.
Sparks fly as the feud between the two brothers begins with pranks on both sides designed to prevent the other band from registering for the festival in time. Maisie has an emotional outburst when she encounters Jimmy and finds out later that Teddy has been secretly seeing Anne, who has led a very sheltered life.
The film does a fine job showing just how difficult it is for people to give up the bad habits of clinging, resentment, and anger. No wonder letting go is such a big part of the recovery movement. Watching Jimmy, John Joe, and Maisie struggle with the art of letting go is en edifying experience that will resonate with anyone who has ever tried to step aside from the rigorous rule of the ego. The Buddhist teacher Achaan Chah has stated:
If you let go a little
you will have a little happiness.
If you let go a lot
you will have a lot of happiness.
If you let go completely
you will be free.