John Hurt, Charles Simon & Guy Carleton
One of the lead roles
is wheelchair bound due to motorneuron disease, and the film follows he and 2 of his friends, Alfred and Johnny as they travel from England to the Holy Shrine at Knock in the West of Ireland.
appears to put on a bit of a front sometimes, pretending everything's OK but Thewlis's wonderfully expressive eyes let you know that its not the truth. At other times however, he lets his emotions surface. He has a lot of bitterness inside, probably best highlighted in two specific scenes. The first being after one of the doctors in the Centre tells him he can't go on the pilgrimage to Knock as he's too ill - he goes back to the lounge area and proclaims furiously: "I'm fed up of feeling like this". It's also highlighted after the toilet scene, when he confronts one of the nuns who regularly visits the Centre and, angrily shouting through tears, he asks her why he is like the way he is. They are very highly emotionally charged scenes, which are perfectly delivered every time.
I said earlier I got the impression that Terry
sometimes puts on a bit of a front, well what I meant by that was that at points he's determined not to let his disability get in the way of doing whatever he wants (ie by going out to the pubs in Ireland), but unfortunately it does. However, when this happens he doesn't let his pain show through to his friends. When things don't work out quite right with the girl he met in the pub, he goes back to the guest house they are all staying in. However, instead of going inside, he sits out for the rest of the night in the rain. Again, DT's eyes say it all, and it seems to me at this point that Terry
realises he can't do some of the things he used to be able to do.
He starts to dwell on this fact and becomes incredibly subdued, perfectly shown by his speech when him and Alfred are listening to Johnny having nightmares: "He's got hope. I haven't got a thing, not even a god"
Also part of the speech he makes when the minibus has crashed into a small wall and they're discussing travelling to Knock by themselves: "Look at me, I'm 25 years of age, I won't see 30, there's nothing for me to look forward to at the end of it all, there's nothing for me to cling to except this wheelchair I'm wrapped in. I know what I'm talking about, I'm a f**king expert."
The turning point for Terry
comes directly after this, when Alfred grabs him violently in a kind of headlock, and delivers his 'learn to live' speech: "......Learn to live, pain's the easy part, any bugger can do that, the bleeding... learn to live. You'll be alright."
It certainly does seem to have a profound effect on him. Unfortunately we don't get to see what happens when they get to the shrine, but I'm guessing that from the way the film ended Terry
does indeed learn to make the most of what he's got.