A fine actor, hailing from Northern Island (County Armagh), he made his debut – and it was a striking one – in Cal, based on the novel by Bernard MacLaverty, a novel of “the troubles”. He plays a young IRA member who becomes romantically involved with the widow of a man killed by his unit (Cal was “the driver”). Helen Mirren plays the widow, and this Irish film is dark, gloomy, moody, and excellent. My father loved the book and the movie, and it was through his recommendation I came to both, and it was how I was introduced to John Lynch.
Helen Mirren, John Lynch, “Cal”
He has gone on to have an excellent career. (His sister Susan is also a wonderful actress.) I loved him recently in the mini-series The Fall, with Gillian Anderson. A Belfast serial killer murder mystery. His character’s “arc” is drastic: we witness his steep descent into all the bad habits he thought he had given up, a tormented man throbbing with shame and passion and rage. I also loved him in Some Mother’s Son, directed by Helen Mirren, where he plays Bobby Sands, the de facto leader of the hunger strikes in Ireland in the early ’80s (my family was THERE at the time. I was young but I was intensely aware of what was happening and it was SO upsetting and I didn’t understand why someone didn’t stop these men from dying.) I saw the movie in the theatre, and now I own it on DVD, but for a long time it was hard to find and it doesn’t get much play. Lynch makes a perfect Bobby Sands. He even looks like him.
John Lynch, Jacqueline McKenzie, “Angel Baby”
The only thing I’ve written about involving him – and it’s a big one – was a piece for my Film Comment column (RIP) about 1995’s Angel Baby, directed by Michael Rymer and starring Lynch and Jacqueline McKenzie. My friend Rebecca and I went to go see it at the Angelica when it came out. We were riveted. We were devastated by the end. We could barely speak.
Both Lynch and McKenzie give performances as good as it gets. This film remains criminally hard to find and/or see. Many people haven’t even heard of it. It was a critical success, an arthouse hit. It was only the mid-90s. What has happened to collective cultural memory? It wasn’t THAT long ago.
Keep your eyes peeled for this one. Again: Here’s a link to the piece I wrote.
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