2009 TIFF movie eight, A Shine of Rainbows

So on my third day at TIFF my middle movie was A Shine of Rainbow.  I was drawn to this movie because it is about adoption, and I work in the adoption field.  The movie stars Aidan Quinn as Alec the prospective adoptive father, Connie Nielsen as Maire the prospective adoptive mother, and John Bell as Tomas the orphan who may find a family with Alec and Marie.

The movie is based on a novel by Lillian Beckwith the first chapter is available here.  I am not familiar with the book, and had not known that it was based on a book until the openning credits rolled.  The setting is Ireland in the 1960s for the movie, which we learned during Q&A where we also learned he felt it was set in earlier maybe 40s or 50s.


The movie starts with Tomas in an orphanage.  He sees a pigeon trapped between a window shade and the window.  He opens the window and frees the bird, which draws the wrath of the bullies who say he let their bird go and he has to fetch it for them.  Fortunately he is saved in a most miraculous way, Maire had been watching him through a one way window, and selects him to be her son.  Her husband Alec did not accompany her on the trip to the orphanage, using the excuse of not liking the main land, meaning the larger island that is Ireland.

Maire takes Tomas by ferry to their island to begin his new life with his new family.  Tomas is rudely greeted by a neighbor boy, which Tomas takes as mean spirited teasing, fortunately his sister is also there and is always supportive of Tomas.  When Tomas gets to his new home with Alec, he discovers that Alec is still dealing with his loss and grief from their infertility issues, and was hoping for a bigger boy, not the “runt of the litter.”

The lack of interest from Alec does not go unnoticed, even to the point of Tomas hiding from Alec.  However, Maire continues to draw Tomas out as a child and a son.  At one point, gushing tears moment for me, he asks if it would be okay to call her mom.

Later in the movie, he discovers an abandoned seal pup on the beach.  He takes on the task, with the help of Alec, of feeding the seal pup.  He sees his role as needing to take care of this seal who happens to be an orphan like he was, until the seal’s mother shows up.

During the movie we also learn that Maire has signed the adoption papers, but Alec has not, and his signature is required to adopt Tomas.  Tomas is aware of this and it continues to strain his relationship with Alec.

End of Spoilers

I didn’t give away everything, trust me there are some other issues in the movies, and you will need tissues.  That being said, it did remind me of issues in adoption, when one parent has different wants or expectations than the other, that can strain the relationship.  Or when a parent doesn’t attach to the child, one-that happens, and two-the kids know, they aren’t stupid.  My friend who works with an attachment team, thought this could be therpeutic tool for the families they work with, and it just might.

I talked with the producer afterwards, hoping that we maybe able to show it at our conference in the future, and learned that the expected North American release will be March or April 2010.

Here is the picture at Q&A

A Shine of Rainbows

Here is the trailer:

I highly recommend this movie, but come prepared to cry.



1 Comment

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