Thirtytwo A

Meadhbh Ní Dhalaigh

Meadhbh Ní Dhalaigh

Screen Time: 10%
Role: Sinead Brennan
Age: 7 years old
Orla Long

Orla Long

Screen Time: 55%
Role: Orla Kennedy
Age: 13 years old
Riona Smith

Riona Smith

Screen Time: 60%
Role: Claire Fox
Age: 13 years old
Sophie Jo Wasson

Sophie Jo Wasson

Screen Time: 70%
Role: Ruth Murray
Age: 15 years old
Ailish McCarthy

Ailish McCarthy

Screen Time: 90%
Role: Maeve Brennan
Age: 14 years old


Thirtytwo A

32A (literal title)


Rating: 8.87 (148 votes)
Directed: Marian Quinn
Country: Ireland, Germany
Language: English
Genre: Coming of Age, Drama


This story is set in the "in-between" time of a girl's life, when she is no longer a child and not yet a woman. We open with our heroine, Maeve, putting on her new snow white bra, and stepping out into the world as a young woman. She has an obsession with breasts and bras and can't help but stare at other girls and women, even the head nun doesn't escape her gaze.

Otherwise, her world revolves around her three friends, Ruth, Claire and Orla, who are more experienced in the ways of the world. They wear bras already (except Claire the feminist) and they've all had boyfriends. The new bra is a start but they really hope Maeve can find a fella, even offering kissing lessons to prepare her. What no one expects, least of all Maeve, is that she should snare the local sixteen-year old heartthrob. Maeve is so smitten with him that she lets her friends down when they need her the most. In trouble with her friends and in school, she gets dumped by the heartthrob when she sneaks into the local dance with him and he leaves with another girl.

Her parents find out and she ends up in trouble at home, where she takes on extra domestic duties. She does the laundry and even her bra has lost its former brilliance. Maeve realizes what she has lost. Her friends rally round for her 14th birthday, Maeve returns to the fold a little older and a little wiser. Winner of the Tiernan McBride Award for Scriptwriting in 2002.

Movie Reviews

Bra Vo

"Taking the inevitable step to womanhood is a universal female experience... It's an age when seemingly trivial events have a huge importance." - filmmaker Marian Quinn

Winner of the Best First Film award at last year’s Galway Film Fleadh, Marian Quinn’s charming, tender 32A is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story set in Dublin’s Raheny in 1979. We first meet 13 year-old Maeve (Ailish McCarthy) as she tries on her first bra, the measurement the same at the bus route to her suburban estate. Maeve and her friends are obsessed with breasts and bras, staring chest-height at other women and endlessly discussing their burgeoning pubescence. From there, the formative events of Maeve’s young life are covered in a familiar rite of passage, from her first period to her first kiss and her first disco (the Northside’s legendary Grove, complete with DJ Cecil Nolan in a cameo). When they meet at a party and spend an innocent night racing around a garden, Maeve starts dating the local heartthrob, sixteen year old Brian Power (Shane McDaid). Her friends can’t believe it, and their sense of injustice is doubled when Maeve skips an important meeting to go on a date instead.

Quinn places these emotional moments, humiliations and embarrassments against the backdrop of Maeve’s mother Jean (Orla Brady) spending time in hospital with “women’s problems”, while across the road, her best friend Ruth (Sophie Jo Wasson) is looking to reconnect with her long-lost father (Jared Harris), against the wishes of her bitter mother (played by the director herself). Although each element of the storyline fizzes with the same mood of teenage angst and shares the same sense of observation, the film struggles to tie these separate threads into a compelling whole, sketching outlines of an emotional landscape but leaving perceptible blank areas on the canvas.

Despite that uncertainty, the young cast give lively, unaffected performances taken, no doubt, from their own recent experiences. As Maeve, newcomer Ailish McCarthy is a real find; beautifully expressing the excitement of discovery through a big pair of blue eyes and later, nimbly finding the faces required to express frustration and disappointment without letting anyone other than the camera know. Her gang of friends (Wasson, Riona Smith and Orla Long) share an irrepressible energy, guiding one another over the various teenage hurdles before falling out, snubbing one another with consummate authenticity. More than boys and bras, its here at the centre of a gaggle of girls that 32A finds its heart.

From the magenta masthead on the Evening Press to the precise shade of industrial green paint on the walls, Quinn recreates late 1970’s Dublin with tremendous facility. Costume, production design and soundtrack are all note-perfect and the film is superbly photographed by PJ Dillon.







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