There are two really interesting things about Pavee Lackeen (The Traveller Girl) and neither of them really have that much to do with the director. Well okay, one does, since he chose the theme and actors. It is merely a thought: to what extent is Winnie actually a traveller girl? The problem is of course with the term, which conflates an identity with an action (similar to say being Jewish which can mixes up racial identity with religion unsatisfactorily). Perhaps in the past she would be called Romany or a Gypsy (no accident it starts with a wizened old palm reader) but it appears that the term preferred is traveller. But in their static caravans by the side of a road for ten years of so, Winnie has never travelled in her life. To what extent are other members of her extended family who live in houses in the suburbs of Dublin still travellers?

Of course the terms traveler has been chosen as descriptive of the key trait of these people. It does not retain any stain of ethnicity AND THEREFORE CAN BE EASILY BE REMOVED BY THE ARGUMENT ESSAYED ABOVE. Want to see how words have power: here is a perfect argument. What is more, the way Pavee Lackeen non-judgementally attempts (and fails) to show worth in this lifestyle must show how much on its last legs it is. The council, the government do their best to make it hard to live like this, but the final nail was in a friendly renaming (to prevent abuse).

The other interesting thing is the subtitles. There are moments when Rosie, Winnie’s Mum, slurs and stumbles her words. But not to the extent that the whole film need be subtitled. Actually it makes more sense to leave it slurred. I expected some slip into some arcane romanyesque language (as Pavee Lackeen the title suggests), but we get less than the average cockney rhyming slang in a similar Eastender. I imagine the subtitling is at the behest of a distributor, but it is the only Irish film I have seen with such titles, and yet again distances the audience from the travellers. It is needless, so I smell a political subtext.

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