Middletown Reviews

Middletown Reviews with UK Theatrical Release

With the release of Middletown in cinema on March 2, 2007 in the UK, we have a large amount of reviews that were published. Here are the links

Sins of Preacherman

Channel 4 Review

Times Review

Telegraph Review

Guardian Review

More Times Reviews

Daily Mail

Observer Review

The Independent

Daily Mail Reviews Middletown (Mar 2007)

As transcribed by JaneV who brought this to our attention

Film page in the Daily Mail by Chris Tookey.

Middletown (15) Verdict: Period melodrama with one amazingly bad performance (receives 1 star out of 5)

Middletown is another period piece, about a small Irish town in, I think, the 1950s. It's being morally cleansed by a thrusting young clergyman, played by Matthew Macfadyen, another first rate actor who played Darcy in Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice. Writer Daragh Carvile's screenplay starts out as though it might be an intelligent analysis of the difficulty of imposing religious morality on a society that's grown used to easy-going, amoral pragmatism. Why shouldn't the new priest rail against cock-fighting, or drinking on the Sabbath?

Instead of addressing such issues seriously, the film descends rapidly into preposterous, anti-religious melodrama, as the new priest reveals himself to be the man who put the big into bigotry. Macfadyen's performance is hilariously atrocious. But as with Sewell in The Illusionist, he has my sympathy.
With this screenplay, he had no alternative but to go over the top.

The road to cinematic hell is paved not with good intentions, but with the bones of powerful actors trying to give life and sincerity to scripts that don't deserve them. 

Another Times Review of Middletown (Mar 2007)

Thanks to 6point7 for the following reviews which appears in the Times in March 2007


A simplistic statement about religious
fundamentalism, this drama stars Matthew Macfadyen as
a Protestant minister who, in the 1950s, returns to
his Northern Irish home town and proceeds to harangue
the locals, including his own relatives, in a manner
that makes Ian Paisley seem wishy-washy. The director,
Brian Kirk, and writer, Daragh Carville, were
evidently aiming for an Ulster version of an American
gothic melodrama, but the humdrum reality of the
setting is unignorable. Thus, when the story becomes
larger than life, it just seems silly. One star.
Edward Porter



"Kirk's debut stars Macfadyen as a newly ordained
minister who takes over the parish of his Northern
Irish home town in the early 1960s. His apprenticeship
in Africa must have been a fierce one, as it is with
fire-and-brimstone zeal that he attempts to knock
Middletown's bibulous cock fight-loving citizens into

As his dogmatism brings him into conflict with his
father (McSorley), brother (Mays) and pregnant
sister-in-law (Eva Birthistle), it seems that we are
set for an absorbing debate between Protestant
austerity and earthier values. But this well-acted,
strikingly photographed film is ultimately capsized by
the sheer monstrousness of Macfadyen's character,
lurching in tone from Ballykissangel to Halloween in
the space of less than an hour and a half. 2 stars. Ed

The Guardian Reviews Middletown (Mar 2007)


* (Cert 15)

Peter Bradshaw
Friday March 2, 2007
The Guardian

Following Dogme... Middletown
Not even the best efforts of a decent cast can help this truly bizarre film whose weird and embarrassing awfulness creeps up on you, slowly at first, then at a gallop.

It is vaguely set in the 1960s, in a remote community in Northern Ireland, where Matthew Macfadyen plays a self-righteous priest, much given to tipping back his head and hysterically addressing the Lord in moments of anger.

He is the son of a local businessman, played by Gerald McSorley, and has returned to his hometown to purge it of its wicked ways: drinking, petty crime and cockfighting.

This priest appears to be neither Catholic nor Protestant exactly, but part of a semi-stylised "Church Of God" in a community in which he appears to be the sole power, with no civil authority. At key moments of horror, no one calls the police or the fire brigade. It just doesn't occur to them. The movie is very like Lars von Trier in its naivety and unreality, but it has a silliness which is all its own.

Telegraph Review of Middletown (Mar 2007)

(15 cert, 89 min)

Matthew Macfadyen is a prickly British star who is now faced with the Colin Firth Dilemma: how to shake Darcy off. The answer is not contained in this extraordinary religious psychothriller, in which he quivers with pasty outrage as a fundamentalist Northern Irish priest called Gabriel Hunter, coming home to cleanse his family's community of vice and fun.

He storms in to stop their cock fights, then goes home to lacerate himself with wire wool: each to his own. Pity his poor sister-in-law (Eva Birthistle), who's pregnant, wears short skirts, and runs the local pub, meaning she's right in the firing line as Satan's whore.

Brian Kirk's film doesn't even work as Gothic melodrama, because it's undone by loopy characterisation: one minute Gabriel's calling down fire and brimstone, the next he's begging to be put out of his misery. The whole thing's as mental as he is.

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