Based on a true court case first tried in 1953 Evelyn recounts the story of a man on a mission. Rumpled pub-crawler Desmond Doyle (Pierce Brosnan) has a streak of bad luck when he loses his wife to another man the day after Christmas and then loses his three children Evelyn (Sophie Vavasseur) Maurice (Hugh McDonagh) and Dermot (Niall Beagan) to the Catholic church and Irish courts. That he's without a wife and a regular job prompts the courts to place the tots in an orphanage which he unsucessfully tries to steal them from. This of course was not a good move. He gets caught and the courts see this as a strike against him. Doyle does not give up--instead he gets his life together. But it turns out that an obscure law that has never been tried in the courts before requires that Doyle's estranged spouse give him custody of the kids so he enlists several lawyers (Alan Bates Aidan Quinn and Stephen Rea) to help him get them back. In the end the story ends happy ever after but not without its up and downs. Doyle must face the hardship of living without his children and his children must suffer through living in a miserable orphanage.
Although this story line is based in predictibility-land the actors still come out on top. Brosnan's character with his native Irish accent anti-Bond dishevelment and pitful story is charming. Each time he leaves the screen he leaves you wanting more. It seems as though this role was made for him. We are used to seeing him in the coolly unrealistic role of James Bond and this is a refreshing change. He shows the true acting skills that he really has as a father in agony. Julianna Margulies also surprises with her protrayal of Bernadette Doyle's love interest. She is charming and feisty as a bartender who enlists her solicitor brother's help to put the devastated father's family back together again.
He may be a double Oscar nominee but Bruce Beresford's directing here is mediocre. The director whose only decent film in recent years was 1999's Double Jeopardy makes a script that is already too obvious painfully so. Pacing is a little slow some of it is corny (ie: rays of sunshine representing faith) and some of it seems unnecessary (a love-triangle plot). The great acting and chemistry between Doyle and his kids especially daughter Evelyn is the best part about this movie.