This Is My Father (1998)

Imdb Ranking 6.7

Widowed Kieran Johnson (James Caan) teaches history in a Chicago high school and is not enjoying it. He tells the kids in his class how rough the road is before them, but he doesn't seem to be getting through to them. His mother lives with his sister and isn't able to communicate and his sister is having trouble with her teenage son, Jack. Kiernan tries to talk to his nephew but it doesn't seem to work.

Kiernan and Jack discover some pictures and Kiernan tries to ask his mother about them but she doesn't respond. Kiernan thinks one of the men in a picture may be his father but he can't be sure. His sister tells him that their mother had told her that her family had been cursed. Kiernan decides to go to his mother's town, Kilronan, County Galway and his sister asks him to bring Jack.

They end up in an inn run by Seamus (Colm Meaney). Kiernan goes and visits his mother's old house which is abandoned and a couple local girls take an interest in Jack. Mrs. Kearney, who is Seamus' mother, and something of a gypsy tells Kieran and Jack about in 1939 Kiloran when a Fiona Flynn, Kieran's mother, started seeing a farmer named Kieran O'Day.

The movie then has a flashback to 1939 and we see Kiernan's mother, Fiona Flynn who has been sent home from boarding school for giving the nuns a hard time. Kiernan O'Day (Aidan Quinn) was a poor orphan worker on a farmer. Kiernan takes Fiona to a dance but he is pretty shy. When two brothers give Fiona a hard time he beats them up and he and Fiona get thrown out of the dance and are then the subject of the sermon at mass on Sunday.

The mother of the brothers puts a curse on Fiona and her mother that will go down through the ages. Fionna and Kiernan continue to see each other. Eddie Sharp (John Cusack) lands his bi-plane on the beach. He is a photographer for Life magazine. Eddie takes off but Kiernan and Fionna stay behind on the beach.

Back in present time Kiernan asks if this man was his father. Mrs. Kearney says that Fionna was with child when she left and that his father, Kiernan O'Day died long ago.

When Fionna got back the next day, from her night at the beach, her mother threw a bottle at her. But Fionna and Kiernan still managed to meet. Then we see up in the pulpit, a different priest (Stephen Rhea), and he preaches fire and brimstone. In confession the priest tells Kiernan not to see "the girl" again. When Kiernan sees Fionna he tells her he doesn't love her.

Kiernan prays to God to get Fionna out of his mind, but he can't. He tells Fionna he loves her, but it scares him. But he says if she will have him, he would give up everything for her. They have a roamntic night and Fionna's mother senses what happens and she goes over to Kiernans and tells him that the guards will be coming for him.

The guards come and Garda Jim (Brendan Gleeson) talks to Kiernan ans asks him what his belt was doing in Fionna's mothers barn. The guards say they will be back the next day to arrest him. Fionna goes to the priest and asks him about her getting married, but the priest says no. He tells her that her mother is going to evict the people Kiernan works for, and press charges against him. Fionna agrees to go to a convent in England and never return.

Back in the present Kiernan Johnson tells how his mother had always told him that his father was a French merchant marine who drowned.

Fionna writes to Kiernan and tells him they must run away, but her mother takes her away. Kiernan's employers, who have been like parents to him, tell him that he must leave. They are afraid of being thrown off their land. The guards come and tell his employers that Kiernan is not in trouble, the charges have been dropped. But it is too late, Kiernan hung himself from the tree at which he used to meet Fionna.

A tragic love story, that was very well done, but it probably could have done without the flashback sequences. There really was no good reason for the modern scenes. But nonetheless, a very good movie.