Review: Tara Road

Andie MacDowell and Olivia Williams in Tara Road

Tara Road is a 2005 comedy from Ireland. It’s based on a novel by Maeve Binchy. If you’re familiar with her work, you know to expect likable characters, a bit of suspense, and a “good” ending.

Tara Road tells the story of two women. Marilyn (Andie MacDowell) and her husband Greg (August Zirner) live in Rhode Island. They lose a son in a stupid accident at the beginning of the film. The grief and pain erodes their marriage. When Greg has to go to Hawaii for two months for work, Marilyn refuses to go with him.

Olivia Williams and Iain Glen in Tara Road
I’m having a baby

Ria (Olivia Williams) and her husband Danny (Iain Glen) live in Ireland. They have two daughters. They’re celebrating their youngest daughter’s birthday when Danny announces he’s gotten another woman pregnant and plans to leave Ria for the new woman. Ria is also struck with grief and pain.

There’s a chance phone call between the two women. They impulsively decide to switch houses with each other for two months.

Andie MacDowell and Stephen Rea in Tara Road
Care to go for drinks?

They move into each other’s lives. They meet each other’s friends. This includes some men such as Colm (Stephen Rea) who develops an immediate liking for Marilyn. Marilyn also meets Ria’s friend Rosemary (Maria Doyle Kennedy).

If you read this blog regularly (hey, you two), you can guess I decided to watch this movie because of Maria Doyle Kennedy. She sang a sad Irish ballad a cappella, which was the highlight of the film for me.

Living in a strange house, stepping into a life full of new friends and neighbors, helped both main characters. They could see their own situations more clearly. They could see the truth about the other’s situations, too. They had some harmless flirtations and learned some things.

There was more kissing than you get in a Hallmark movie, but Tara Road comes close to that style of visual and emotional storytelling. Things aren’t too dark, almost everyone is straight. Well, those guys running the cafe were horrible gay tropes, and I’m none too sure about Ria’s youngest daughter. Most importantly, things work out for the best in the end.

There’s also the benefit of seeing some of your favorites when they were 15 years younger, Brenda Fricker and Sarah Bolger, for example. If you are in need of some warm hugs from an older movie, you may enjoy this one.

Tara Road poster

This gem from the past is currently streaming on Prime Video. Take a look at the trailer.

Did you see this one when it first came out? What do you remember about it?

6 thoughts on “Review: Tara Road”

  1. I loved this movie when I first saw it on Amazon Prime. Now in pandemic mode…even more enjoyable! BTW, singing a capella is not for the faint of heart…like growing old. I liked that in this story the Andie MacDowell character and her husband reunite whereas the Ian Glenn character and his boss get what they deserve in the end. Loved every character in this story.

  2. Bit of a minor correction: Ria has a daughter and a son ( the younger sibling)- I know it might’ve been confusing since he had longer hair. This movie definitely had the cringe-inducing obligatory gay stereotype characters typical for a romantic(ish) dramedy in the early 2000s, but a gender non-conforming younger daughter, going without mention at least, would’ve been way too extreme for that era.

    What was up with that weird video of their son’s death? Who kept recording during the event, and why on earth did they keep it? I get that it was meant for exposition of the story, people’s death’s/freak accidents get caught on tape, etc. But…yikes. No wonder Andie McDowell’s character couldn’t get through the grieving process in a healthy way. It’s just there in the VCR, for them or their house-swap guest to watch whenever.

  3. I read the book and as usual the book can’t be beat. Some books should not be made into a movie and I believe this one. Maeve Binchy is one of my favorite authors, so I think this movie didn’t reflect her talent.

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