The upcoming 74th Berlin International Film Festival is set to commence with a powerful narrative, “Small Things Like These,” featuring the critically acclaimed actor Cillian Murphy. Known for his recent standout performance in “Oppenheimer,” Murphy takes on a poignant role in this new film, set against the backdrop of 1980s Ireland.
He portrays Bill Furlong, a dedicated father and coal merchant, who stumbles upon harrowing truths about the Magdalene laundries, notorious institutions run by the Roman Catholic Church.
Directed by Tim Mielants and penned by Enda Walsh, “Small Things Like These” promises a deep dive into the dark history of these asylums, which were infamously known for their mistreatment of “fallen women.” The film also features notable performances from Emily Watson, Eileen Walsh, and Michelle Fairley.
Eileen Walsh’s involvement is particularly noteworthy, having previously starred in Peter Mullan’s acclaimed drama “The Magdalene Sisters” (2002), which also focused on these asylums.
The storyline of “Small Things Like These” is adapted from a book by the award-winning Irish writer Claire Keegan, whose novel “Foster” was previously transformed into the Oscar-nominated film “The Quiet Girl.” Murphy, along with Alan Moloney, produced the film through Big Things Films, in collaboration with Catherine Magee.
The project was financially supported by Artists Equity and Screen Ireland/Fís Éireann and co-produced in Belgium by Wilder Content. Notably, Hollywood stars Matt Damon and Drew Vinton also contributed as producers through Artists Equity, with executive production credits going to Ben Affleck, Kevin Halloran, and Michael Joe. FilmNation Entertainment is managing the international sales of the film.
“Small Things Like These” is set to open the Berlinale on February 15 and will compete in the festival. Berlinale’s Artistic Director, Carlo Chatrian, expressed high regard for the film, particularly highlighting the synergy between Keegan’s nuanced writing and Murphy’s compelling portrayal.
Chatrian anticipates that the film’s themes of kindness, resilience, and standing against injustice will resonate universally. This opening also coincides with Zeitgeist Irland 24, a year-long celebration of Irish culture in Germany.
This film marks another collaboration between Murphy and Mielants, following their successful work on multiple episodes of “Peaky Blinders.” Murphy’s portrayal of nuclear scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” has already earned him significant accolades this awards season, including best actor at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards.
The full competition lineup for the Berlin Film Festival will be announced on January 22, with the festival running from February 15 to 25.
“Dive into the depths of Ireland’s painful past with our Small Things Like These review, featuring Cillian Murphy in a performance that will haunt and inspire you.”