Gillian Anderson spent the best part of a decade solely producing episodes of the X-Files. Over the years she appears to have gone from a shy, reserved, overly clinical, unemotional and slightly frumpy novice FBI Agent into a slender, power-suit wearing take-no-nonsense star who has since adorned no end of lad's mags' covers. But after the series was brought to a close (and with a second movie still not quite in production) where was she going to go? A few period pieces and some noteworthy theatrical performances have helped her leave her potentially typecast-invoking past behind and now she turns her hand to low-budget British drama.
The Mighty Celt is about a young boy, Donal, the son of a toughened single mother, Kate, whose only fatherly influence is a dodgy greyhound-racing wheeler-dealer inappropriately called Good Joe. Joe tries to do his best by the boy but he is not quite the perfect role-model for the young lad. At the same time Kate is struggling to not be so single, but unable to meet anybody halfway decent. Suddenly the mysterious 'O' returns into their lives, an old love of Kate's who has a startling influence on the young boy, Donal's life. All the while Donal is becoming more and more affectionate towards his dog, The Mighty Celt, who he is training for Good Joe. Unfortunately he is more than aware of what will happen to the dog if he does not come up to Joe's standards. What will happen to the lives of these four disparate individuals?
The Mighty Celt is admittedly little more than a pleasant TV drama, but it does showcase three very watchable actors doing what they do best. I love Ken Stott - he is the kind of actor whose name on its own would sell any production to me - and I am so glad that he has recently had the opportunity to turn his hand to Rebus in what will hopefully turn out to be a promising career move. Here his role as the dubious Good Joe is typically unusual and enables him to offer a slightly more shady version of his former characters.
Robert Carlyle has been one to watch ever since he played Archie, the bomber in Cracker or the psycho, Begbie, in Trainspotting, but his recent dip into more US-orientated work (like starring opposite the unfeasibly cool Samuel L. Jackson in the 51st State) really has not done him any favours and I just have not seen him in anything really good recently - nothing which showcases his obvious talents. Here he is on good, if unspectacular, form as the mysterious 'O', who comes crashing back into the lives of Kate, Donal and Good Joe.
Easily the most noteworthy performance, however, is from Gillian Anderson, who is simply a wonder as the mother, Kate. Chain smoking and with a perfected Irish lilt, she is barely recognisable and utterly convincing in a role which makes you instantly forget that this is the same sex symbol who obtained her fame through the X-Files. Her performance here is probably the biggest selling point of this quaint but powerful little drama.
All in all, as I have stated, this is the kind of thing that you would be pleasantly surprised to catch late one night on BBC2 or Channel 4. As a DVD release, it is worth renting but you would have to really be a true fan of one of the three main participants to risk blindly adding this one to your collection.
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