Saturday, July 26, 2008

TV Review: The Fiftteen Streets (1989)


Based on the novel by Catherine Cookson the story is set in 1900 northern England in a small poverty stricken waterfront area called the Fifteen Streets. There the large O’Brien family resides. The eldest son is John (Owen Teale) and the second son is Dominic (Sean Bean) both of whom are dockworkers. Tension is introduced when a family of wealthy spiritual healers moves next door. Also, John finds himself attracted to one of his young sister’s teachers, Mary Llewellyn (Clare Holman), who is the daughter of a wealthy ship builder. Dominic is the bad seed of the family and conflict is produced there as well.

Spoiler Alert

Dominic is a drinker and carouser who chases women. He tries to seduce the daughter, Christine Bracken (Jane Horrocks), of the new family next door, but she will have none of it. He impregnates the local imbecile, Nancy Kelly (Margery Bone), and swears her to secrecy telling her that after she births the babe, he will wed her. Somehow, John catches the blame for her pregnancy and is ostracized, ruining his reputation. Dominic then plays a prank on Christine and the smart O’Brien sister when they are on a boat in the river, eventually causing them both to drown. John seeks to avenge these deaths and goes after Dominic nearly killing him; when Nancy fears that Dominic is dead she blurts out that she kept her promise to stay quiet about his fathering her babe. This further infuriates John, who will stop at nothing to kill Dominic. Will anything stop him from murdering his brother? Will he and Mary end up together even though they are worlds apart as far as class?


The location and costumes were perfection in this drama. One problem was that a modern crane was shown in one scene. The plot was a juicy one and contained many of the pressing issues of the time including religion, poverty and class. The acting was top notch on all accounts and the action was suspenseful. I cared what happened to the characters. The final scene was quite powerful and a statement and I wasn’t expecting it at all. I really enjoyed this movie. I loved seeing Sean pull out the stops to play a mean, uncaring bastard and I thought that it was well balanced by the good brother played by Owen Teale, who came across as weak at first, but became a man at the very end. I give this movie

***** of five stars.


Doug said...

You're really on a Sean Bean binge these days. I don't think I've seen much, if anything, of his work (though I think I've seen clips of him in Derek Jarman's Caravaggio; not the whole film, though)

Sue said...

I own Caravaggio and will review it eventually. I have always been a big fan of Sean's. It was just a matter of time until the blog got to this point. Um, you know, I been busy.