Tito (Ruaidhri Conroy) and Ossie (Ciaran Fitzgerald) are young sons of Papa Riley (Gabriel Byrne). They live in drab, dirty low income apartments in Dublin. Papa Riley is an alcoholic since his wife died when Ossie was born. The magic of fairies and leprechauns in Ireland are not part of their loves, but one day their grandfather (David Kelly) comes into town with a large white horse following his wagon. The horse, names Tir na nOg, becomes curiously attached to Tito and Ossie and they do too. The horse is acquired by a horse breeder with the help of a crooked police chief and the kids steal the horse back and head Into the West.
Filled with symbolism, the reality of the horse is in question by the end of the film. Is it a horse or the spirit of their mother leading them back to their lives as Celtic Gypsies called travellers.
Director Mike Newell (Enchanted April) brilliantly guides the two young boys, and their trials, concerns and fears are written on their faces. They look like kids but carry their burdens as adults. Byrne and Ellen Barkin are excellent. They fit perfectly in their roles. Not enough can be said of the warmth and naturalness of the kids.
This is a warm, entrancing mysterious film filled with the strength of children and magic fables of Ireland.
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