What happens when you take the basics of Cinema Paradisio and make it Irish? You get Stella Days, a Martin Sheen vehicle about the nature of faith and film in 1950s rural Ireland.
Martin is Father Daniel Barry, a man of the world who has served all over. And then he comes to rural Ireland in the 1950s where his love of cinema and the arts comes in direct contrast with everything in the area. As he tries to bring the area into the modern times, or as modern as 1950s rural Ireland gets, he deals with the brush back that follows.
And while it’s fairly pedestrian as a film, as Sheen can play a progressive priest trying to change things up the film delves into a bit deeper themes of faith and family in his sleep, it’s an interesting character piece because of just how good Sheen is. It’s also not just a film about someone shaking things up; it’s about a man coming to terms with who he is and why he’s in his current position in life.
This is the sort of character role Sheen can do in his sleep but he gives a genuine, nuanced performance in the role. There isn’t a lot he can do with the character, given the overall arc he’s provided, but this is solid indie work. This is the sort of role that you discover Sheen in as opposed to find aloud, like his role in The Way a year ago.
Stella Days is a solid indie, nothing more, but it’s worth a view if only a rental.
There’s a Behind the scenes piece that isn’t all that important or enlightening.
Tribeca presents Stella Days . Directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan. Written by Antoine O’Flatharta, inspired by Michael Doorley’s memoir of the same name. Starring Martin Sheen, Stephen Rea, Trystan Gravelle, Marcella Plunkett, Tom Hickey, Amy Huberman, Joseph O’Sullivan. Running time: 90 minutes. Not Rated. Released: January 8, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.