Ground-breaking Irish psychiatrist Ivor Browne is the subject of Alan Gilsenan's latest documentary, in which Browne, seated in the middle of a large, bare studio, talks us through the highlights of his multi-faceted life, his personal reminisces punctuated with regular meetings with a number of Irish personalities, among them Tommy Teirnan, Nell McCafferty, Mary Coughlan and Sebastian Barry.
prightly and dapper at the age of eighty-seven, Browne has lost none of his capacity to shock, charm and provoke. He had 'almost everything to be ashamed of' he tells us of his early life, an emotionally difficult period when the young child was frequently reminded by his father that he was a 'mistake'. Spurred on by 'some queer search for meaning', and 'driven by an anxiety not to be a total failure,' Browne emerged as a young man from a protracted convalescence after contracting tuberculosis determined to question his relationship with the world.
ilsenan, who previously directed the documentaries The Ghost of Roger Casement and The Yellow Bittern, another frank and open offering from the subject matter, offers a nuanced portrayal of a self-confessed flawed man, particularly when he draws Browne out on the subject of fatherhood (his own father was a difficult man to love; Browne himself confesses to his own failings as a father).