Hear My Song

Director: Peter Chelsom
Screenwriters: Peter Chelsom, Adrian Dunbar

Institute History

  • 1992 Sundance Film Festival


Mickey O’Neill (Adrian Dunbar) runs a music hall/club, Heartly’s, in the Irish community of Liverpool. He presents “light, popular, universal” entertainment, if at times a bit fraudulently, i.e., Franc Cinatra. But when he announces the comeback of legendary British tenor Josef Locke (who’s been on the lam in Ireland for thirty-five years on tax-evasion charges), and the entertainer who appears turns out to be something less than the real thing, scrambling O’Neill has sealed his doom: he is closed down for false representation. In love with the beautiful Nancy (whose mother, it turns out, was a beauty-contest winner involved in a tempestuous affair with Locke at the time he departed), O’Neill is now destitute. Down but not out, he heads back to his native Ireland to unearth the real Locke, redeem his reputation and regain the love of his girl.

Chelsom directs a remarkably accomplished first feature, filled with odd and extraordinary touches. References to the fairies of Ireland, images of O’Neill’s lieutenants performing an impromptu little dance in the street, and shots of a toad perched on a rock and a curl of blood dripping from O’Neill’s nose are just some of the moments and scenes that make the film continually surprising and original.

The British film industry is in the midst of one of its worst depressions, but despite that, exceptional films created by essentially unknown talent continue to emerge. Hear My Song is a wonderfully romantic story with terrific performances by Ned Beatty and Adrian Dunbar especially. Although sentimental and nostalgic, it remains resolutely contemporary, and is a delight for both the eyes and the emotions.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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