The Matchmaker Review

by E. Benjamin Kelsey (LooseSkrue AT aol DOT com)
April 30th, 1998


Directed by Mark Joffe
Running Time: 96 minutes
Originally Released: October 3, 1997

Reviewed by E. Benjamin Kelsey

* * (out of four)

People are suckers for foreign accents. It doesn’t matter what someone is saying, as long as they have that accent, people will listen until the cows come home. For that reason alone, THE MATCHMAKER captivates us, but were it just another small town middle America flick, the small but bewitching amount of magic this film possesses would be completely lost.

Janeane Garofalo takes on her usual cynical persona, this time as Marcy Tizard, campaign aide for dim-witted senator, John McGlory (Jay O. Sanders). It’s re-election time and McGlory is behind, so in an attempt to garner some votes out of good human interest, McGlory sends Marcy to Ireland to track down some McGlory ancestry. Absolutely anything but delighted, Marcy travels overseas to the remote Irish town of Ballinagra. It just so happens that Marcy is arriving smack dab in the middle of the annual Matchmaker Festival, where the local cupid, an older gentlemen by the name of Dermot (Milo O’Shea), uses his knack for diagnosing compatibility to put together the singles of the town.

The festival becomes a distraction for Marcy, who’s already having a hard enough time with the transition from Boston to a town functioning on simplicity. Her aggravation is only enhanced by her slightly-larger-than-a- closet hotel room and the annoying Sean (David O’Hara), a writer who resides a few rooms down the hall, helps himself to Marcy’s bathtub, and owns a luggage desecrating dog. Despite the inaugural friction, Dermot sees real potential between Marcy and Sean and begins a plot to put them together, especially when motivated by his main competitor’s doubts (and handsome wager).

For being a romantic comedy, there sure is a low amount of romance. It’s not that watching the characters interact isn’t fun, but there seems to be a deprived sense of development *between* the characters. Everyone is charming, especially O’Shea as Dermot, but nobody is introduced beyond their initial stages. We don’t really get to know any of the characters better by the end. We don’t really see them go thru much of a change, and, unfortunately for this film, that’s what stories are all about. Even Garofalo, whom I highly admire as one of my favorite modern female actresses, seems a bit dispassionate about her appearance here.

This is a film that will be loved because, like Ballinagra, it’s simplistic and sincere almost to a point of naivety. But even though the charm is thick, it’s spread on a bit thin. To give some credit, there a few things that do make THE MATCHMAKER watchable: a better than average soundtrack, some beautiful Irish landscapes, and, of course, those cute little accents.
April 26, 1998

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