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In 1904, in Dublin, James Joyce chats up Nora Barnacle, a hotel maid recently come from Galway. She enchants him with her frank, direct and uninhibited manner, and before long, he's convinced her to come with him to Trieste, where he has a job with Berlitz. Over time, Nora pulls him through phobias, tolerates his drinking, takes in his brother Stan, and bests Joyce at 'the writin' game' to bring him back to Italy from Dublin where he's gone to open a cinema. But his sexual jealousy threatens the relationship and sends her back to Galway with the children. Is there any way to tame Jim's green-eyed monster? And, will the lad ever get his stories published? Written by
At a superficial level the film is richly evocative of the physical and cultural settings of Dublin, Ireland and Trieste, Italy; and of the strong contrasts between the two places. Dublin's streets are gritty, dark and damp, its people dress in shades of black and grey. Trieste is bright and airy, and people find it natural that rooms should connect via exterior balconies. But unfortunately when James Joyce tried to escape Dublin he carried his Irish neuroses with him in his cases.
Nora Barnacle is hearty, strong, sensuous and highly adaptable. As a biography of her, this film concentrates on the generous support and protection that she gives, and promises to give, to a fearful, complicated man given to outrageous sexual jealousy--James Joyce.
Nora and James might seem poorly matched and perhaps it is the combination of her own jealousy for his letters--and their intense physical relationship--that binds them.
None of us could expect to predict a stable outcome, could we? Yet they lived together for their entire adult lives.
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