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John Huston's last film is a labor of love at several levels: an adaptation of perhaps one of the greatest pieces of English-language literature by one of Huston's favorite authors, James Joyce; a love letter to the land of his ancestors and the country where his children grew up; and the chance to work with his screenwriter son Tony and his actress daughter Anjelica. The film is delicate and unhurried, detailing an early January dinner at the house of two spinster musician sisters and their niece in turn-of-the-century Ireland, attended by friends and family. Among the visiting attendees are the sisters' nephew Gabriel Conroy and his wife Gretta. The evening's reminiscences bring up melancholy memories for Gretta concerning her first, long-lost love when she was a girl in rural Galway. Her recounting of this tragic love to Gabriel brings him to an epiphany: he learns the difference between mere existence and living. The all-Irish cast and careful period detail give the piece richness... Written by
Russ W. <email@example.com>
In the February 1988 issue of 'Film Comment,' critic Stephen Harvey put this film on his Ten Best Films of 1987 list. See more »
Are you an ornithologist as well?
An amateur. I suppose being a singer makes me susceptible to other creatures that sing. Birds are the most beautiful singers of all. Just think of the widow warbler and the wren.
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John Huston was seriously ill when he made his final achievement,and it's thoroughly his testament:uncompromising,difficult ,a thousand miles away from crazes and fashions,it will stand as the best "last film" you can ever dream of.A very austere screenplay,no action,no real hero,but a group of people coping with the vanity of life,the fleeting years and death.The party doesn't delude people for long.Admittedly,warmth and affection emanate from the songs and the meal,complete with turkey and pudding.But the passage of time has partly ruined Julia's voice,first crack in the mirror.Then the camera leaves the room where the guests are gathered and searches the old lady's bedroom.For sure,hers seems to have been a happy life,but it's a life inexorably coming to an end-A shot shows towards the end of the movie Julia on her future deathbed-.Maybe an unfulfilled life,because she remained a spinster,with no children to carry on .Only some poor things,yellowish photographs,bibelots and trinklets.... But are a human being's hopes and dreams all fulfilled?Look at Gretta.She 's a married woman ,about thirty-five,she's still beautiful and healthy but she knows something is broken.What Julia is today,she will be tomorrow,that's why,in her stream of consciousness,she goes back to her past,only to find out how harrowing her memories are: a young man committed suicide for her,a symbol of her youth now waning.The final monologue,if we listen closely to it,involves us all in this eternal tragedy,the doomed to failure human condition,John Huston's masterly lesson.
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