4 February 2005 | esh04676
fine film about a great writer's beginnings
I've read some of the comments pro and con already made on this movie and am glad some viewers liked it. I thought it very fine indeed, but agree that some prior knowledge of James Joyce, his life and work, is helpful. Joyce's writing is not a bore, as some of the comments suggest. The story "The Dead," from Joyce's collection "Dubliners," is one of the great short stories in English literature. It is referrd to several times in this film. (Incidentally, "The Dead" has been made into a film also.) The time of the film "Nora", when Joyce was trying to find a publisher for "Dubliners", was well before the writing of his great work, "Ulysses". It was a time when Joyce and Nora Barnacle had a stormy relationship, but nevertheless were deeply in love and had a lusty relationship with each other. This is well depicted in the movie, beginning with their first date, when Nora surprises and delights Joyce with her bold advances. Ewan McGregor and Susan Lynch play these scenes with high professional skill, helping us to really understand the delight these two people had in a physical relationship. Their love is an up and down affair but endures. McGregor is a fine actor who always give 100% in whatever his role may be and in "Nora" he does not disappoint. I was struck by the way he squinted occasionally, just as Joyce must have done with his terrible eyesight, which even in these early years had begun to deteriorate badly. Susan Lynch is new to me and very convincing as the servant girl from the Irish countryside who kept up to the challenges of life with a great intellectual. One objection: I viewed this film on DVD and was unhappy that there are no captions for the hard of hearing--or for those who have trouble with Irish brogues!! There were a couple of the Trieste scenes where Italian conversation did have English language captions. A great relief! But is it really too great an expense for DVD producers to routinely include the caption option?