An abortion film that ‘avoids the issue’

An abortion film that ‘avoids the issue’

Andy (Shane Murray-Corcoran) and Maggie (Iseult Casey) are a young couple from Tipperary who begin a romance when they become students together at TCD. The relationship runs into problems, however,  when Andy’s father Brendan (Ardal O’Hanlon), who’s been suffering from depression since his wife left him, attempts suicide.

Andy drops out of college to be near him. Maggie, as a result, starts to think Andy is going off her. Then one night she becomes pregnant by another man. When she comes round to Andy’s house to tell him her news he’s shocked and tells her to leave. Later on Brendan advises Andy to “be there for her” and he agrees to this.

Maggie decides she wants the baby aborted. Andy offers to get back with her if she gives birth to it but she isn’t interested. Neither is she interested in having it adopted.

It’s a pity that such a well-made film as this doesn’t have a pro-life element in it anywhere to be seen. There’s a tacit acceptance that since Maggie announces she wants an abortion this is the best course of action for her, no questions asked.

She isn’t suicidal or psychologically unbalanced but neither, it should be pointed out,  is she flippant about her decision, her upset at the forthcoming abortion – sometimes concealed under a fake jollity – being tellingly conveyed.

This is the Ireland of today, it seems, and to that extent Twice Shy reflects that. It also reflects the growing problem of depression we’re undergoing here. At first I thought O’Hanlon was miscast as Brendan. That was mainly because his Fr Ted character was so implanted on my brain. He actually gives a very credible performance, refusing to ‘milk’ his pain but showing it nonetheless in revelatory details.

The film is written and directed by Tom Ryan. He uses an effective series of flashbacks to chronicle the developing thread of events as Andy drives Maggie to the airport where she plans to depart to a London clinic for her ‘procedure’. In these scenes there’s a marked contrast between the happy pair that once hooked up together to the glum couple who now have little or nothing to say to one another.

My main problem with the film is its lack of a moral compass. At no stage is the fact of abortion involving the killing of a baby mentioned. This could be seen as a sad lapse on Ryan’s part but one could equally argue that a lot of women are like Maggie today, seeing unwanted children as mere inconveniences to be disposed of at the earliest opportunity. It would be difficult to conceive of a film like this being made 10 or 20 years ago in this country. Now they’re par for the course.

W.B. Yeats once said that Ireland is “no country for old men”.  Neither, at the moment, would it appear to be a country for unborn children.