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Louis Gossett Jr.
In 1920s Ireland, an elderly couple reside over a tired country estate. Living with them are their high-spirited niece, their Oxford student nephew, and married house guests, who are trying to cover up that they are presently homeless. The niece enjoys romantic frolics with a soldier and a hidden guerrilla fighter. All of the principals are thrown into turmoil when one more guest arrives with considerable wit and unwanted advice. Written by
John Sacksteder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Flawed effort with moments of beauty and intensity
The narrative is a mess but there are many fine visuals and isolated moments of deep emotional intensity. Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith were excellent, but Jane Birkin and Fiona Shaw have some of the most powerful scenes, with their relationship problems seeming to amplify the dislocation all the characters are feeling, Irish but not Irish, English but not English. However, it is Keely Hawes' intense performance as Lois that held the movie together for me, with her coming of age, and the relationship choices she must make, personalizing the larger conflict between English and Irish that the film wants to illuminate.
This is director Deborah Warner's first film (she's an experienced stage director) and I feel she relied too much on her cinematographer, Slavomir Idziak. He did a very fine job with the landscapes and interiors, but there are too many gratuitous camera tricks and heavy-handed visual cues that don't contribute anything to the story or it's impact. Overall, worth seeing for the performances and questions of national identity it raises. The interviews with Fiona Shaw and Deborah Warner on the DVD are also worth a look.
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