I Dolours

Jun 10, 2018
I watched the film I Dolours, which is showing in the Lighthouse Cinema Smithfield, there doesn't seem to be many online reviews about it, and I would welcome the opinions of those who saw it. The film is a documentary based on the life of Dolours Price an IRA volunteer who died in 2013 after taking a deadly dose of sedatives and anti-depressants. Ed Moloney who collected oral histories of the conflict recorded a number of interviews with IRA volunteer's, Price being one of them, the understanding being that what was recorded remained unpublished until after death. In the film we see the original interview with Dolours as she talks and answers questions, it is intersected with a dramatic reenactment, in which Dolours is played by the actress Lorna Larkin.
It certainly is a life that has transversed so many important events in Northern Irish history, coming from a very strong Republican family on both sides, we see the young Dolours as a child listening to her fathers IRA escapes in the 40s, she attends the needs of her invalided aunt who lives with them, disfigured as a young woman by an explosion at an arms dump and condemned to live a tragic existence minus hands or eyes, Dolours helps her smoke and drink tea, and the film leaves you in doubt on how formative this was on her. When the Troubles break out Dolours naturally joins the IRA and becomes part of the team that is responsible for the Disappeared, she talks very candidly about Jean McConville, which does not seem to bother her, yet the one Disappeared that she seems to well up about, is one who probably deserved his fate, yet, she talks about how sensitive he was, I felt she recognized herself in this man. She accepts what happened was a war crime, and she had argued with Gerry Adams against this policy advocating the dumping of informers bodies on the street as a warning to others.
Nor is there any doubt of her or her sister Marion's bravery, they volunteered following a request from Adams to bring the war to England, in what he told them could be a "hanging job", caught after a series of explosions Dolours was sentenced to life and herself and Marion started a hunger strike in order to be transferred to Armagh, she was force fed for most of her strike, for over two hundred days, something which clearly deeply traumatized her and Marion forever after.
Eventually both sisters are transferred to Armagh but became anorexic due to the force feeding this in turn affects their physical and mental health, and because of it Marion is released early, one thing that struck me in the film was the concern that the prison governor has for Dolours writing letters to Thatcher to petition her early release, a time in Irish history were the treatment of prisoners and by extension the IRA campaign against prison officers in the North was particularly hard, this struck me as very humane.
Eventually Dolours is released and has a shot at happiness by marrying actor Stephen Rea, however the cessation of the IRA campaign begins a torrent of invective directed at the IRA leadership particularly Adams for what is seen as betrayal.
Lorna Larkin brings a very natural beauty to the part and while its easy to be sympathetic to Price, she still participated in murder and abduction of people, this portrayal shows how we are very much prisoners of our own history, by extension family history. A fascinating portrayal of a fascinating woman.
May her ghosts show her kindness.

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