1998, Tomboy Films/Gruber Brothers film and called just 'Waking Ned' in the UK - distributed by Twentieth Century Fox, starring Ian Bannen, David Kelly, and Fionnula Flanagan, and a rather remarkable one at that.
Ned Devine wins the lottery in Tullymore, a sleepy Irish town. Jackie O'Shea (Bannen) and Michael O'Sullivan (Kelly) find out that someone's won, but don't know who. They start to quiz the whole town trying to discover who it is. Eventually, late one night, O'Shea realises who it must be and sets of with a chicken dinner to Devine's house. Devine, though, when he realised he was the winner, died of a heart-attack. The ticket is still clutched in his hand, and with his name written on the back of it.
O'Shea, together with Sullivan, decide to claim the money. Becuase his name is written on the back of it, though, one of them will have to try and impersonate Ned. The two of them think that, as it's probably only a small prize, that there won't be much hassle. Ned, though, stood to win £6,849,620. The man from the Lotto says he will have to make sure that Ned is who he says he is.
The village has to be consulted - O'Shea proposes that they split the money between the residents - and it decides, unanimously to go along with the plan. Only one woman, Lizzie Quinn, played by Eileen Dromey, wants more than her cut. They decide to leave her out: she drives off, during Ned's funeral to call the Lotto authorities... (I won't spoil the end - it's too good.)
The film is whimsical, but utterly delightful. There are some first class moments: a motorbike ridden by a naked seventy year old; the chicken dinner scene when O'Shea tries to work out who's won the Lotto; and all the scenes with the witch, Lizzie Quinn. The music too, is marvellous - especially 'The Witch, the Fiddle and the Phone Box' at the end: music to get goose-pimples to - you know the kind of stuff.
At the same time, though, the film is really rather moving for several reasons. The funeral scene, to begin with, is heart-breaking. Jackie has to eulogize about Ned Devine: as he is about to start, the man from the Lotto arrives. Jackie can't talk about Ned, and so talks about Michael, with Michael there listening. He tells of how much he is going to miss his friend, and how much he wished he could have told him how much he liked him before he died. Quite brilliant. The atmosphere, too, is remarkable: when the drinking party goes up on to the cliffs to toast Ned at the end (and the music kicks in and does its stuff)... terrific.
And nothing much happens in the film - the direction (by Kirk Jones who also wrote it) is so assured that nothing much has to happen for it to be utterly breathtaking. Highly recommended.