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Rory O’Shea Was Here Examines Independent Living for the Disabled

Rory O’Shea Was Here was directed by Damien O’Donnell and released in 2004.  It was originally titled Inside I am Dancing and stars Steven Robertson as Michael Connolly and James McAvoy as Rory O’Shea.  The story revolves around the friendship of Michael and Rory and their venture into independent living.

Michael Connolly is a young man with Cerebral Palsy who is very difficult to understand and a wheelchair user.  He was residing at a residential home for disabled adults.  He has been abandoned by his high-ranking father and receives no visits during family day.  Michael is a timid, compliant, rule follower and popular with the staff.  However, he struggled to communicate or bond with anyone in the home. 

Rory O’Shea arrived at the residential home and turned things upside down.  Rory O’Shea is a rebellious young man with Duchene’s Muscular Dystrophy.  Rory is a rule-breaker and does not mince words, at times his words can be quite hurtful.  He uses sarcasm as a defense mechanism to cover up his anger/fear of his inevitable death.  He has a loving dad; whose issues prevent him from caring for Rory, but he does visit.

Starring James McAvoy, Steven Robertson, Romola Garai, Gerard McSorley, Tom Hickey

Rory O’Shea Was Here does an incredible job of examining the process of independently living for disabled individuals.  In the movie, the process involved a panel who had control over whether an individual could receive funding to be able to live on their own.  The panel in Rory O’Shea Was Here turned down Rory three times, but approved Michael after his first application.  The difference?  Rory was sarcastic, rebellious and basically a smartass.  Michael took a different approach, he read their brochure and basically told them what they wanted to hear.  The panel approval is not the only obstacle in the process.  Rory and Michael faced the lack of proper housing and the financial obstacle of living independently.  I am fairly lucky in the fact that I did not need a panels approval and I was able to find affordable housing.  However, I do face the obstacle of caregivers which was also examined in Rory O’Shea Was HereHaving adequate caregivers is essential for me to continue to live on my own.  If it were not for the support of my mom, this obstacle may have prevented me from achieving this.   

The residential home featured in Rory O’Shea Was Here was safe and the care was good.  The challenges about meals, rent, caregivers and safety are basically eliminated when choosing to live in such a facility.  So why choose the “harder” route?  I think this is best answered with the one word screamed by Rory and Michael on their first night in their apartment…FREEDOM!!!  In residential homes, meals, schedule and activities are all decided by the staff.  There is little control over one’s life, even down to when and who showers you.  The environment of the residential home in Rory O’Shea Was Here could best be described as “sleepy”.  Rory O’Shea took note of that instantly when upon his arrival, he stated, “So is it always this much fun here? Or is today somebody’s birthday?”  The programing on the TV was geared toward children, as well as the activities.  Rory was told the staff could not expend time on spiking his hair, so even his appearance was dictated the staff.  There is a need for residential homes, but whenever possible everyone deserves the right to feel free.

The actors in Rory O’Shea Was Here were not disabled.  I would really like to see more actors with disabilities filling such roles.  With that being said, both Steven Robertson and James McAvoy did phenomenal jobs in portraying individuals with disabilities.  I could really relate to Steven Robertson who played Michael Connolly.  His body movements, speech patterns and facial expressions were dead on.  I was quite surprised to find out he was not disabled.

I really enjoyed Rory O’Shea Was Here and would recommend it to everyone.  This movie is rated R for strong language and adult situations.  Rory O’Shea Was Here provides the audience with a different perspective of individuals with disabilities and their right to live life to the fullest, to make decisions and mistakes.  Michael said it best when he went before the panel to advocate for Rory one last time, “When I first met Rory I thought he was trouble. And I was right. He is trouble. Yet because he is seen as a rebel, you believe he hasn’t the responsibility to live independently. But how do you learn to be responsible? You live in the world. You make your own decisions. You make your own mistakes. So if this panel can offer independent living to someone like me who until recently had no concept of what that meant, and refuse someone whose very life is an embodiment of independence, then I believe that the panel showed a prejudice.”

Rory O’Shea Was Here can be rented through Amazon Prime and other on-line movie rental sites.

Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’

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