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Two grieving women - Ria, a Dublin mom whose husband discloses he's in love with a woman already pregnant, and Marilyn, a Connecticut Yankee whose son has died - swap houses for a couple months. Marilyn finds solace in Ria's garden and becomes friends with Colm, a local with a restaurant and his own demons. Ria gets a job cooking, has a date or two, and gradually comes out of her shell. Meanwhile, Ria's husband Danny has problems, economic and personal, that may bring more ruin to those close to him. The house on Tara Road comes to stand for the past, for possibilities, and for what can be lost. Written by
Maeve Binchy, author of the novel on which the movie is based, makes an uncredited cameo as a restaurant patron. She can be glimpsed seated at the end of the bar, right after the scene where Ria offers to take the job advertised at the restaurant cashier's counter. See more »
The US scenes supposedly take place in New England, but include a shot of an Interstate 75 road-sign. I75 goes nowhere near the east coast. See more »
Between all this summer blockbuster mayhem, the premise of TARA ROAD seemed like a welcome change. I prepared myself to see a well-acted drama with a touch of subtle comedy, driven by a solid plot able to strike the right chords. When it comes to the acting and the afore-mentioned genre description my assumptions proved to be right. The plot on the other hand...
The basic idea of the movie certainly is interesting. Andie MacDowell (respectable as always) plays a married American woman who loses her 15-year-old son in a motorcycle accident. Around the same time, somewhere in Ireland, Olivia Williams (another respectable actress) is told by her husband that he's going to leave her for his younger and pregnant girlfriend. Through an impulsive phone-call by MacDowell, the two women get in contact (for the first time!) and without knowing each other's background, they suddenly decide to swap houses for a few months.
I never read the bestseller by Maeve Binchy, so I can't compare it to this motion picture. But in the movie director Gillies MacKinnon introduces some interesting characters to the audience, only he doesn't do much with them. Both women take this perhaps life-altering decision to come to terms with the recent dramatical events in their lives. But eventually the road they choose to take just leads to nowhere. No renewed visions on their lives, no reflections on their past. So this clearly isn't the good movie that TARA ROAD should have been.
At one point the Irish Ria encounters a possible love-interest at the doorstep of her American home (or at least the opportunity to have sex with no strings attached...). But does she indeed take that chance? In Ireland there was this scene in Stephen Rea's restaurant where, during a quiet dinner, the American Marilyn gets invited to sit at the table of a bunch of Ria's friends (including her cheating husband and his girlfriend). This was the most suitable moment to insert some clever, cynical dialogues, a slip of tongue by one of the characters, a misinterpretation of some sort or a subtle stab below the belt. Unfortunately, none of all that. I won't give away what does happen during that dinner, but it was not what I wanted to see.
Those two random scenes perfectly describe the final feeling I was left with when this movie was finished: missed potential. Add to that a predictable happy ending where even the cheating husband gets what he deserves (what that exactly means, you can see for yourselves if you still want to see the movie) and it's safe to say that there were more things I disliked than otherwise. There still were a few enjoyable scenes in it, though, like the scene where Ria starts smashing Marilyn's expensive vases (let's see if you see that one coming), or the ones where Iain Glenn tries to get what he wants by telling subtle lies and sweet-talking everybody. But those were just a few raindrops in a puddle of mud. And when the story is over and done with, you have the feeling that both women could have just as well stayed at home to solve their problems.
Maybe slightly older people (or let's say: adult married or divorced couples with teenage children) can relate better to this movie (and thereby appreciate it more). It probably has something to do with the urge to find new challenges in life, but feeling just a bit too old to accept/undergo the consequences of the changes they cause. I have no idea, but I didn't get much out of TARA ROAD.
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