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MATCHMAKER, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Marcy Tizard (Janeane Garofalo) is a political aide to Massachusetts Senator John Mcglory (Jay O. Sanders) who's up for re-election, but is struggling in the polls. Looking for a new angle to garner more votes, McGlory's campaign manager, Nick (Denis Leary), decides they should play up the Senator's Irish roots. They send a reluctant Marcy to the Senator's homeland of Ballinagra, Ireland, where she finds herself in the middle of a local matchmaker festival. Being a single American woman, everyone thinks she's there for the festival, including Dermot (Milo O'Shea), the Head Matchmaker. Although she adamantly denies that, Dermot picks out Sean (David O'Hara), a journalist, as her match. Marcy wants no part of this, but soon the locals and their way of life begin to soften her resistance. As she finds herself falling for Sean, she must balance her feelings with her duties to find McGlory's family roots.

"What might have become a standard Irish/American love story has a bit of a twist - under the helm of Australian director Mark Joffe, who takes a rather off-beat approach to this novel idea. The cross-germination of cynical American political culture with the lilting charm of the Irish fails to gel as a whole, despite interesting ideas and an engaging lead performance by Janeane Garofalo. There’s something intrinsically problematic about the script which is contrived and at times rather trite. Having said that, there is a certain charm about the picturesque Irish locations, beautifully shot by Aussie cinematographer Ellery Ryan, and the contrasts of cultures is quite intriguing. The handling of the Matchmaker Dermot’s character is at odds with the rest of the film, hindering the pace. It is a story that defies belief, as the characters are not truly credible, nor is there sufficient chemistry for the two romantic leads. Garofalo has an earthiness and appealing lack of self-consciousness, but is somewhat restrained with the role’s limits. The main heart of the film lies with the Irish people, whose very nature shines through, creating most of the film’s charm."
Louise Keller

"Though the cinematic Americanisation of Ireland tends to be a little tedious at times, occasionally, a small gem emerges from the clicheed rough, and such a film is The Matchmaker, a savvy political satire on the one hand, and a romantic comedy with the least likely of romantic heroines on the other. In between, there's the quaint deliriousness of the Irish character, beautifully presented in a small Irish locality. Directed with an understated eloquence by Australia's versatile Mark Joffe, The Matchmaker (nothing to do with the Thornton Wilder play of the same name), has an old-fashioned sensibility attached to it, nicely developing that age-old theme that everyone is on the search for love, whether they know it or not. It's a simple theme told with intelligence and wit. Janeane Garofalo is a joy on screen, playing a woman running away from romance and hoping never to find it. She gives a glowing, funny and touching performance, while veteran Milo O'Shea, an ageless Irish master, is in top form as the wily matchmaker in question. Love is certainly in the Irish air here, and the end result is a droll, charming film with deftly etched characters and plenty of wit and wisdom."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 0

See Paul Fischer's interview with director
MARK JOFFE

THE MATCHMAKER (M) 15 +
(Ireland/UK)

CAST: Janeane Garofalo, David O’Hara, Milo O’Shea, Jay O. Sanders, Rosaleen Linehan, Paul Hickey, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Saffron Burrows, Denis Leary, Jimmy Keogh

DIRECTOR: Mark Joffe

PRODUCER: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Luc Roeg

SCRIPT: Karen Janszen, Louis Nowra, Graham Linehan (based on a screenplay by Greg Dinner)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ellery Ryan

EDITOR: Martin Smith

MUSIC: John Altman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Geraghty

RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes

 

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: PolyGram

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: March 12, 1998







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