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Young Martin Carhill (Eanna McLiam) grew up in a Dublin slum, where crime was the main occupation. He was sent to a correction school when caught stealing food for his family and grew up with a resentment of authority. In his adult life, Martin Carhill (Brendan Gleeson) organised a number of daring and carefully planned robberies, gaining the sobriquet, 'The General'. Though ruthless, irreverent and quick-tempered, Cahill was in many ways a surprisingly conventional man. He didn't drink or smoke, and he was a loving if unconventional husband, living with both his wife Frances (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and her sister Tina (Angeline Ball). But Cahill's brazenly defiant attitude made him many enemies, and finally both the police - led by Sergeant Ned Kenny (Jon Voight) - and the IRA set out to hunt him down.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
From the first moment of The General, Boorman's sense of cinema stands out; it's not what you shoot it's how you shoot it. Martin Carhill was a thug, a nasty villain with barely a redeemable feature, frankly, although the film imbues him with some mysteriously forged charisma. Boorman tries not to glamourise his anti-hero and shows his amorality, but he also plays with the man's contradictions, presenting us a character we can't loath or despise, and even forming a judgement about his notorious deeds is difficult, considering the circumstances of his life.

But the black and white photography gives Boorman a distinct edge in this subtle game, and the decision to avoid colour was possibly the most crucial. Everything flows from that, in cinematic terms.

Gleeson's performance is riveting, a robust, compelling and articulated portrait of a man whose cunning and wit were wasted in a life full of holes. But Gleeson manages to convey the poignancy that Carhill never thought so. (By the way, it's a great pleasure to see Jon Voight back with the director who made him a star, in Deliverance, one of the top adventure dramas ever made.)

DVD features bonus movie trailers.

Published June 30, 2005

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CAST: Brendan Gleeson, Jon Voight, Adrian Dunbar, Sean McGinley, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Angeline Ball, Eanna McLiam, Tom Murphy

PRODUCER: John Boorman

DIRECTOR: John Boorman

SCRIPT: John Boorman

RUNNING TIME: 129 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: Movie trailers

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Releasing Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: May 25, 2005

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