Irish Movies: Some Mother's Son (1996)

by Beth Rowen

Some Mother's Son (1996)

In 1981 Northern Ireland, a mother faces the heart-wrenching decision of whether to let her son die for his cause. Kathleen Quigley (Helen Mirren), once fiercely apolitical, finds herself in the middle of the Troubles after British police invade her home on Christmas day and arrest her son, Gerard (Aidan Gillen), for involvement in an IRA bombing. The 1996 film focuses on the hunger strike led by Bobby Sands (John Lynch) in which 10 protestors, including Sands, died.
The nonviolent protests were triggered by Margaret Thatcher's decision to have imprisoned IRA soldiers classified as criminals rather than political prisoners. Gerard participates in the strike, and when he slips into a coma, Kathleen has the legal right to have him force-fed. She finds a friend in Annie Higgins (Fionnula Flanagan), who also has a son near death. While Kathleen battles spiritually and morally with her son's fate, Higgins respects her son's wishes, no matter how painful the result. Some Mother's Son is a loose sequel to 1993's In the Name of the Father. While the earlier film pretended an objectivity, Some Mother's Son openly portrays the British government as a brutally oppressive regime. Moving but profoundly sad.