• Michael (David Kelly) and Jackie (Ian Bannen) in ‘Waking Ned’. (Distributor)Source: Distributor
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SBS Movies

14 Mar 2022 - 9:44 AM  UPDATED 15 Mar 2022 - 3:29 PM

There’s a reason that the Irish sense of humour is world-renowned. It’s unparalleled in its ability to transform the mundane and sometimes bleak reality of everyday life into an opportunity for self-deprecation and banter. Or, failing that, just a hilariously good time. And couldn’t we all do with a healthy dose of that? If there was ever a film that perfectly encapsulates the inimitable warmth of this Irish wit, it’s Waking Ned (also known as Waking Ned Devine).

Waking Ned Devine Review

Set in the small but picturesque fictional village of Tulaigh Mhór (Tullymore), the English-language feature debut of British film director Kirk Jones (Nanny McPhee, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2) begins with the event that promises to change lives forever: The National Lottery. The chance of one of Tullymore’s residents winning it is unlikely at best, but that’s exactly what has happened. Or so the rumour mill says. And, as with any close-knit community, attention quickly turns to uncovering the identity of the lucky individual. This is a task that shouldn’t be too difficult considering there are only 52 possible options, but what is the best way to get the winner to reveal themselves? Over a roast dinner, of course. It is an Irish village. 

Michael O’Sullivan (David Kelly) and Jackie O’Shea (Ian Bannen) are the amateur detective duo at the helm of this dinner investigation, meticulously eliminating potential jackpot winners the best way they know how: with good old-fashioned gossip and a few pints. First in their sights is the farmer affectionately known as Pig Finn (James Nesbitt) whose recent sports car acquisition has bumped him to the top of the list, but it turns out that he is just trying to – unsuccessfully – impress his long-term love interest Maggie (Susan Lynch), so Michael and Jackie find themselves back at square one. “I spent ten pounds on Finn and all he wanted was advice on his sick pig,” Jackie laments. We’ve all been there.

The pair feel they may have reached a dead end in their search, until one resident on their list fails to turn up to their chicken feast and the list of 52 is quickly whittled down to just one. Ned Devine. So, with Ned’s dinner in hand, Jackie races over to confirm their suspicions under the pretence of concern, only to discover that poor Ned is indeed the lottery winner – but he has also died in his sleep. “He plays the lotto all his life and dies from the shock of winning it,” Jackie tells Michael. “He survived all those storms to be washed away by a few plastic lottery balls.”

Almost immediately, Jackie and Michael agree that if Ned couldn’t have the lottery winnings for himself, he would want the village to share in his good fortune. That revelation leaves them with only one logical way forward: someone will have to pose as Ned Devine and claim the seven-million-pound prize on behalf of Tullymore. Cue all the madness you’d expect as the whole village is let in on the plan, and Jackie and Michael must find a way to keep their increasingly complex charade afloat.

Whether you’re after the perfect way to spend your St Patrick’s Day, or simply in need of an uplifting night in, the film and a generous serve of delicious Guinness crème brûlée are a match made in heaven. It’s the dessert we all know and love, but with an Irish twist, complete with melt-in-your-mouth whiskey ginger snaps that will be lucky to make it to the plate!

Though Waking Ned is a comedy through and through, it is full of incredibly heartwarming moments that bring some serious feel-good factor to this tale. The sendoff for Ned is a testament to unwavering friendship, though not quite in the way anyone expects, and above all else, the story is ultimately a celebration of Irish village life with all its kooky charm. We’ll drink to that.

Make Guinness crème brûlée

Find the recipe at SBS Food.


Watch ‘Waking Ned’ 

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