Saturday movie review: Life's A Breeze

LIFE'S A BREEZE is a cautionary tale from Lance Daly, director of THE COMMITMENTS (a favorite of mine). What might viewers be cautioned against? Throwing out your elderly mother's household goods without checking with her first.

Life's A Breeze dvd

The 2013 Irish comedy stars Fionnula Flanagan as Nan, the elderly matriarch of a large and low-on-cash family living in Dublin. As a birthday surprise, Nan's adult children and her grandchildren band together to clean up Nan's cluttered apartment.

Filled with glee, the family shows Nan about her tidy home but glee quickly turns to guilt—and horror—when Nan calmly informs the gang that in their misguided fervor, they've thrown out her life savings, which she kept hidden in her mattress. 

The search for Nan's (initially unbelievable) stash of nearly one million euros becomes a comedy of errors, with the bumbling adult kids and Nan's eldest grandchild searching the streets of Dublin for the mattress—while trying to keep news of the money-filled mattress a secret from their treasure-hungry fellow Dubliners.


Some of the scenes are laugh-out-loud funny. Others are poignant, touching on themes such as how middle-aged children view their aging mother, how grandchildren see the reality of a beloved grandparent, the desire for Mom's approval even as an adult, and the lengths to which family members might go in order to right a wrong.

Fionnula Flanagin nails the part of aging Nan. Having just gone through cleaning out my mother's home with my siblings as she moved to another home, I could see in Nan's face much of the same I saw in my mom's as we kids picked through her belongings, deeming this or that garbage with little regard for Mom's wishes for her unlikely treasures. I wish my siblings and I had seen LIFE'S A BREEZE before setting out moving Mom. We may have approached the task with gentler hearts.

As the Irish actors—Flanagan, Kelly Thornton in a bang-up performance as granddaughter Emma, Pat Shortt as son Colm, Eva Birthistle as daughter Margaret, and others—all speak with fairly thick Irish accents, there were moments it was difficult to understand what they were saying. Though there was one hilarious scene in which there was no question about any of the meaning when a stripper (Madrid native David Bendito) honors—and embarasses—Nan at her birthday bash.

LIFE'S A BREEZE (rated R for language) was nominated for and won several flim awards (see the list here). The charming and funny film is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, OnDemand, Netflix Streaming, and iTunes.