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Wednesday, September 29, 2021


The Bright Side will feature on the virtual programme of the European Film Festival which runs from October 14 to 24, 2021.

The Bright Side

Ireland – 2020 – 1 hour 40 minutes

Director: Ruth Meehan

Written by: Ruth Pasley and Ruth Meehan

Based on: A memoir by Anne Gildea – I’ve Got Cancer. What’s Your Excuse?


If you’re looking for a hard-hitting movie to watch – one that doesn’t shy away from ugly truths, then “The Bright Side” is well worth watching. (Review by Barry Meehan)

“Always look on the bright side” is a maxim by which many people strive to live. But how difficult is it to look on the bright side when one has breast cancer?

Kate (Gemma-Leah Devereux) is a somewhat jaded stand-up comedian with a typical Irish outlook on life. She performs at dingy clubs where her comedy is appreciated by the audience, but there are no major sparks to set her career on the path to comedic stardom.

Her personal life is pretty humdrum, and her sex life – while she has a lot of it – is very unsatisfactory as she is incapable of holding down any sort of relationship, so instead settles for a number of one-night stands with men she knows she is unlikely to ever see again.

Her faith in life is rapidly diminishing, and when she is diagnosed with breast cancer after visiting the hospital for a check-up following an accident on a trampoline, her prospects for a successful career and life appear even dimmer, and she starts to look at the cancer as a way out of her sad circumstances.

This might sound like a very depressing film, but it certainly isn’t. It has been handled with great sensitivity by director and co-scriptwriter Ruth Meehan, who offers us meaningful insights into Kate’s state of mind as she journeys through her chemotherapy treatment, with the prospect of losing at least one of her breasts before she can be cleared of the disease.

Kate hates this thought, as she has given her breasts a life of their own, creating different characters for them, having conversations with each other as she manipulates them in a few very comic scenes. She suffers through the start of the chemotherapy, which she is only doing to please her long-suffering brother, who has had to agree to let her leave this life behind if the treatment doesn’t work, but it is during the chemo treatments that she meets four fellow sufferers, and a cancer sisterhood is born, fears coming out into the open and friendships starting to blossom after a rocky beginning.

Each of the four women has a different outlook on life and cancer treatment, and their views challenge Kate to investigate the root cause of her closed heart.

Gemma-Leah Devereux delivers a superb performance as Kate, going from slapstick comedy to intimate introspection with ease. Another standout is Siobhan Cullen, who plays Tracy, a bit of a tomboy, who contracts breast cancer at an early age, but the cast come together splendidly to make this an ensemble piece, delivering a wonderful message, in that the prospect of death is the best reason to choose life.

If you’re looking for a hard-hitting movie to watch – one that doesn’t shy away from ugly truths, then The Bright Side is well worth watching. – Barry Meehan

The Bright Side can be seen free of charge from October 14 to 24, 2021, on the European Film Festival’s website. For more information click on the advert to the right of this article or visit