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YMMV / Dancing at Lughnasa

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • As he's an off-screen character, Danny Bradley is subject to this. The film goes with the interpretation that he's a drunken lout taking advantage of a simple-minded woman. But in the play, what happens between them in Lough Anna makes Rose excited rather than scared. And all we have to go on Danny is Kate's dismissive attitude - and she's hardly trustworthy.
    • There are hints that Gerry has a thing for Agnes. Is it genuine or does he see her as dainty and easy to have his way with? What's more is that he disappears from Michael's life after Agnes and Rose have fled to the UK. Could that have something to do with it?
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    • It's unknown if Rose had a genuine disability or was simply oppressed by Kate's domineering attitude and the strictness of the times.
    • If Rose lost her virginity to Danny Bradley, was that another motivator for her and Agnes fleeing to England? Did Agnes fear that her sister could get taken to the Magdalene Laundries if word got out?
  • Broken Base: Casting an actor to play the young Michael. The original production just has the narrator saying his lines off-stage. Needless to say, productions can't agree on which is the right way to do things.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The story is quite bleak, despite the moments of levity. It's set during the Great Depression, and Michael's narration notes that the events are the last time the family was ever truly the same. By the end of the play, you're told that pretty much all the characters are going to be heartbroken or suffer later in life.
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  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Maggie, the fun-loving sister, and Cool Aunt is the favourite character of many fans.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • Any time Kate shows a softer side, such as when she gets Michael a spinning top for his kite. The film version of this scene has just the two of them there, making it an even more tender moment.
    • It is rather sweet to see Kate getting all Adorkable around her love interest when she visits his shop.
    • Early in the play there's talk of a Sweeney boy who got badly burnt jumping over the Lunasa bonfire, and the sisters are convinced he's going to die. In the final scene - just after Michael's sad revelation about Agnes, Rose and Gerry's fates - Chris informs us that the boy is going to be fine.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Brid Brennan later stars in Brooklyn as the crotchety spinster Ms Kelly who chews out the protagonist Eilis for emigrating and abandoning her family. Exactly what Agnes does at the end of this.
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    • Agnes also goes on a rant to Kate that she's basically her unpaid servant. Brid Brennan later played Meryl Streep's actual maid in Florence Foster Jenkins.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Kate is a borderline Evil Matriarch but it's hard not to feel sorry for her - especially when she loses her job for something she didn't do. In the film her reaction to Rose and Agnes gone is devastating.
  • Narm Charm: The famous sequence of the sisters dancing around to the radio music. At first it's funny because it's five middle-aged women dancing along to ceili music. Then you realise that this is one of the last times they'll ever be this happy together and it becomes very bittersweet.
  • Signature Scene: The five women all getting up and dancing to the radio music.
  • Tear Jerker: The fates of the other characters in the Distant Finale. Jack dies only a year after his return, leaving Kate "inconsolable". She's reduced to acting as a tutor for the children of Austin, the man she never ended up with. Agnes and Rose flee to England in search of a better life, ending up on the streets and only getting work as washer women. By the time Michael tracks them down, Agnes has already died and Rose is dying in a hospice for the destitute - not recognising her grown-up nephew. Gerry is revealed to have a wife and son back home, explaining why he never stayed too long. Chris ends up working in the knitting factory and is said to have hated it every day of her life. Maggie tries to keep the house together but it's a shell of its former self, and Michael can only be glad to get out of there when he's old enough.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • Hardcore purists of the play were annoyed that the film leaves the house and employs Adaptation Expansion for events that happened off-stage.
    • Others didn't like the change of Danny Bradley to a direct antagonist, since what happened between him and Rose is ambiguous in the play.

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