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  • When you go to see a movie it helps if you know a little bit about the subject. For example if you see a James Bond film it helps if you know that he is British and against the Russians – or whatever. It's the same with this film – it helps if you know about James Joyce and helps even more if you know about Ulysses which the movie has been adapted from. The book has many themes and it's a book where the words are very important – not the plot; so the director has made the words important to this movie.

    One of the most famous passages in Ulysses is Molly Bloom's Penelope soliloquy at the end of the book. It starts on page 659 and ends on page 704 – it is one long stream of consciousness sentence with no punctuation and only gaps for paragraphs; it takes in many images and history of the characters. In this film the director, Sean Walsh, starts with this soliloquy and during it he cuts to various memories of her loving 'Poldy' – Leopold Bloom - in good times and to her sexual exploits with the current beau Blazes Boylan. This works very well and the music, 'Love's Old Sweet Song,' matches underneath the soliloquy perfectly. Ulysses, apart from being written in many styles of other writers of the time, has parts which are dedicated to the human body, parts which are dedicated to colours and parts which are dedicated to music and one of the most memorable pieces of music, which goes with the stunning cinematography by Ciarán Tanham, is the aforementioned 'Love's Old Sweet Song'; this music sets the mood for the whole film.

    The soliloquy is used throughout the film as a counter commentary to the innermost thoughts of her husband, Bloom. He knows what she is doing back at their house in Eccles Street with Blazes Boylan, who is supposed to be there to arrange a concert tour, so he stays out of the way and goes on his famous wander around Dublin with the text being spoken in voice over as he observes his day, on June 16th 1904, as it has been his day, Bloomsday, ever since.

    Ulysses is what you might describe as an epic novel. Other adaptations of epic novels, such as East of Eden, concentrate on a certain section of the book. This film doesn't do that. There will be those who might think this film tries to do too much but I don't think so; I think it does enough. It gives you a smattering of what Ulysses is about and if you have never read it this film will give you a good start; a kind of Cliff's Notes on film.

    I first heard Stephen Rea play Stephen Dedalus on BBC radio and here he is coming full circle and playing Bloom. A little less rotund than one has imagined Bloom to be but perfectly cast nonetheless and very intelligently played - as is Molly Bloom by the voluptuous Angeline Ball – hasn't she come on since her debut in 'The Commitments' and why don't we see more of her?

    Usually it's very hard to get anything by James Joyce produced as the rights to his works are owned by his grandson Stephen. But I believe this film was started when James Joyce's works were in public domain before the law changed. We are very lucky that a director like Sean Walsh came along when he did and made such a beautiful film. I think he was governed by the budget in a good way as I dread to think what a Hollywood Studio would have done with a massive budget.

    As I mentioned this took place on June 16th 1904 and on that day the winner of the gold cup was a horse called 'Throwaway' and when Bloom inadvertently tips the winner we can see that the jockey on the horse is a certain Mr Sean Walsh.

    The reason why this story is set on June 16th 1904 is because that was the day James Joyce first walked out with his beloved Nora Barnacle. As Sean Walsh took a little licence over the end credits with Bloom wandering around modern Dublin might it have been more fitting as this was a film to have a glimpse of James Joyce and Nora walking together on that fateful day?
  • Sean Walsh has created a delightful, beautiful, and very accessible film of James Joyce's "Ulysses".

    As a Joycean who has read Ulysses many times and has studied the novel, I realize the immense challenge in bringing this world-shaking novel to the screen. It has only been attempted once before, the 1967 "Ulysses" directed by Joseph Strick.

    "Bloom" is elegant and captivating. It does great justice to the novel and is an honest and generally successful attempt to sort out the complexity of this book.

    Acting is first rate, especially Angeline Ball (Molly Bloom). Cinematography is meticulous, providing us an historic glimpse of 1904 Dublin.

    "Bloom" is more approachable than the '67 "Ulysses" and perhaps not as intense or artistic, but it nevertheless is a superb film and is highly recommended by this James Joyce fan.
  • It's tempting to describe this film by listing all the things it is not. The earlier black and white version, by Joseph Strick in the Summer of Love 1967, starring Milo O'Shea, was too steamy for Ireland and Glasgow, where it was banned, but it was quite sedate and circumspect even by the mores of the time. There has been an excellent serial on BBC Radio, where good use was made of echo/reverb and stereo in depicting the various voices of guilt, regret, lust, fantasy, stream-of-consciousness. In a sense, Michael Winterbottom got closer to the show-off spirit of Joyce in 'Cock and Bull Story', but this production is its own movie. It certainly gets back to the 'cut and paste' feel of the book, and looks every bit as lubricious and smelly as it aught to. Dublin looks dark and damp as it is on the written page, albeit with a touch of filmier romance. The scenes of pure mad fantasy, on the other hand, are either under hardedged sit-com lighting or bathed in a 'Ridley Scott' fog. Most of the dialogue is slightly stagey - or it has the kind of distanced feel associated with post-synching, but only once does this mannerism jarr, when Dedalus (Hugh O'Connor) is spouting his opinions on life and art; so 'rehearsed' and declamatory that it could almost be seen as a deliberate nod to Joyce's category-jumping. Stephen Rea has just the kind of hang-dog look of regret, guilt and ineptitude you can imagine in Leopold Bloom; Angelina Ball as Molly is permanently redolent of warm bed. A neat trick with the structure was to begin with Molly's soliloquy,but otherwise, the overall framework follows the book; if we had been deprived of That Ending, who knows, riots could have broken out. As it is, the acceptance of human folly and the celebration of cerebral grandiosity in vile bodies forms a happy cloud round the exit. One to see again. CLIFF HANLEY
  • If they made1001 movie versions of _Ulysses_, none would be as beautifully and compellingly cinematic as the book itself. This is only the second version, as far as I know. But I enjoyed watching it. I suspect it was an effort to expose the book to the Good People of Ireland (Flann O' Brien) in preparation for the big centennial Bloomsday party--so they would know what they were celebrating, and so that the hapless tourists who wondered into Dublin on that day to experience the famous Irish hospitality, etc., might know what these people were celebrating as well. He used to be on the ten-pound note, Joyce, before the Irish switched to Euros.

    I don't know if this movie would make any sense at all to people who haven't read the book itself. I have read the book itself, more than once, and some parts of it more even than that.

    This version appears to have been written by Gerty MacDowell, after she grew up and got a job at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, in 2003 (it takes some of us longer to grow up than others--and it seems to have taken her 99 years). I am looking forward to the next 999 versions. Joyce is reported to have said that he meant to keep academics busy for the next 300 years. God only knows how many years he wanted to keep film makers busy (it is a fact that he once tried to open a movie theater in Dublin Himself).

    Stephen Rheas' Bloom is nicely Chaplinesque, as is just about everything else in the movie, including the music. All told, _Bloom_ is a nice exercise in nostalgia for a Joyce and a turn-of-the-twentieth-century Ireland that never existed--nostalgia is like that. Nice is nice, but this movie, it goes without saying, is nowhere near as great as _Ulysses_ is a book. Most of the characters and dialogue, as best as I can remember, comes from the book itself--but you can't capture much of that in two hours. But, then, there is ... Love's Old Sweet song.
  • Bloomsday 100 should have yielded a fitting tribute to Ireland's great James Joyce. Unfortunately, this was not to be. I was insulted by this movie on so many levels. First and foremost, this film had the potential to blow audiences away. With material as rich as Ulysses, the filmmakers had a unique opportunity to bring a novel that has a reputation for being difficult to a whole new audience. What they achieved instead was a pedestrian annotation of a few of the novel's plot points. Additionally, the acting was stilted (especially the part of Stephen Dedalus), the lighting was abhorrent, the art direction lacking and the shot selection shoddy. With a veritable army of Joyce scholars spread across the globe, one would think SOMEONE would have been consulted about important themes, artistic interpretation, and the smorgasbord of visual, musical, literary and historical references in Joyce's text. And the music - absolutely insulting. Joyce included literally hundreds of references to music in Ulysses. All those fabulous resources were abandoned in favour of the singsong simplicity of the original score. Digital features can be done so well these days and independent film-making, especially with the rich textually of Ulysses behind this production, should have freed the filmmakers to follow in the revolutionary spirit of Ireland's great epic. Instead, they produced hardly the epic film the book deserved, but something akin to a first year student film. Farcical. However, this production does leave the door wide open for an artistic visionary to tackle the book properly and produce a film worthy of the monumental Leopold Bloom.
  • Let me get this out of the way first and foremost, "Ulysses" is, in my opinion, THE greatest novel of all time; it is a book I've practically worshiped within the past year and I believe that almost everything about it is brilliant, if tedious and difficult at times. "Bloom" is a competent adaptation of the source material, but, there really is no way to TRULY adapt "Ulysses" unless one was willing to turn it into an avant garde miniseries. There are so many aspects of the novel worth exploring, and most of these aspects aren't even touched upon in the film. However, as a film, "Bloom" is quite enjoyable and some sections of the novel are brilliantly and beautifully presented, particularly that of Molly Bloom's (in)famous soliloquy which closes the novel and the film. Angeline Ball pulls off Molly's hypnotic inner voice perfectly, and her voice is paired with a powerful, swelling musical score that crafts a sequence so rich in beauty it nearly matches the masterful words of Joyce.

    The performances are mostly quite fantastic across the board. Stephen Rea is very good as the title character (the immortal everyman, Mr. Leopold Bloom!), although I do feel as if his narration of Bloom's thoughts was a bit too dramatic at points. Much of Bloom's consciousness delves into comical, bawdy, and ridiculous territory, and even when Rea is reading aloud lines of such a nature his voice remains soft and serious. However, in the more fantastical and blatantly comic later scenes, his performance does get as goofy as is necessary.

    On all fronts, this is a respectable and beautiful motion picture.
  • Bloom (or Bl.,m if you're to go by the opening credits) had the potential to follow in the footsteps of what is regarded as the greatest written novel of the 20th century, the Joyce classic Ulysses, an epic ramble around Dublin. What we have here though is merely a supplement to the novel, an illustrated guide to the main parts of the book. Anyone wishing to enjoy this purely as a cinematic event will be disappointed, as the film seems to be almost completely inaccessible to someone not versed in the book. The major plot points (and there are numerous) are lightly touched on (eg Bloom's 'Jewishness') and then we get a plethora of narration taken verbatum from the book over scene after scene on beaches! Obviously the size of the budget limited this film greatly, but it seems the one crucial element missing from the book was the actual walking itself. Since the book focuses on the main characters walking around Dublin, you would expect some in the film, but given the changing face of Dublin 100 years in the future, the film was severely restricted, much to it's detriment. The film had potential yes, but perhaps too much was bitten off, & the pretentious ending, coupled with manipulative a score ruins even the ideas trying to be expressed by this too-faithful adaptation.
  • Yes it's true that maybe it has a History Channel feeling, a music that may sound crappy, and so on, but it's just ...genius. How much of this film is a director's choice? We don't know. We can't. Everything is so perfect, the necessary cut-off choices so well-made... How can't you just *love* it? Every single actor of this film is perfect, and Angeline Ball's Molly Bloom is special. Her final monologue is rendered though a true theatrical mastery. Stephen Rea's Bloom too is incredible. Hugh O'Conor shows us what does it means to be twenty-two and to be called Dedalus. His interior monologues are perfect too. All monologues and dialogues are perfect. A special attention has been delivered to the sound of the voice. The sound is very important in this film. All the technical choices show a director that tries to be incredibly ambitious, and humble, at the same time. And for me, it's a huge success.
  • Just saw it at the Seattle International Film Festival. I haven't read Ulysses (but I will). My wife read it 40 years ago. We both liked Bloom very much. Molly Bloom was great, as was all the acting. This is not a film for car chase buffs, but if you feel like a pleasant day in Dublin, and are not put off by sexual references, it's just the thing. We did not find it difficult to comprehend and the accent is quite intelligible.

    There is a voice-over track which gives one a good feel for Joyce's language. It's great fun to watch the characters drift in and out of fantasies and memories. I don't at all think that one needs to have read Ulysses to have this film be enjoyable.
  • A total disappointment. I thought the Strick 1967 version was bad; compared to this, that version seems like "Citizen Kane." Where to begin?? The direction is far too facile & literal--much of the film is done in voiceovers, and in some scenes every literal reference finds its way on film. The filming of the "Circe" episode is the most wince-inducing, because we see as "real" what is for the most part dream/hallucination-induced. In addition, the actors are all wrong. Stephen Rea was brilliant in "Crying Game"; however, pushing 60, he's too old for the 38-year-old Leopold Bloom. The guy playing Stephen Dedalus seems like an adolescent and far too giddy for a guy who neither bathes nor has fond memories of his mother's death (never mind his trauma over having a Brit shoot up his domicile). The actress playing Molly __seems__ too young and is too physically fit. (In the book, everyone refers to her as being fat). The only enjoyable parts of the movie had nothing to do with the film production BUT everything to do with Joyce's writing. Read the book! Bob
  • Some of Leo Bloom may as well be in Gaelic, I simply can't divine what he's saying. I'm looking at this on a DVD with only Spanish subtitles. Ulysses is difficult enough reading. Having to try and divine the all important voice-over without captions is crazy. But I notice many artsy fartsy British Isles stuff comes to the US without subtitles. The idea is there's such a small market in the states for such DVDs that spending money on subtitles just whittles the already small profit, smaller.

    The film has inspired me to go back and tackle the book again. I haven't read a line of it in 40 years. At a minimum I won't leave the book until I've read the entire Molly Bloom soliloquy. Its what Ulysses journeyed home to hear.
  • Joyce's 'Ulysses' is the record of a single day (16th June 1904) in the lives of three characters in Dublin - Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus and Bloom's wife Molly, and deals with their actions, inner thoughts and relationships. The day itself was meant to be unexceptional – it actually commemorates Joyce's first date with his girlfriend, Nora Barnacle. In the manner of such records it does not follow traditional plot structure. This of course does not mean the book is unfilmable. Quite the contrary in fact - we have seen the video diary become increasingly ubiquitous and there is a recent fashion for films that trace interlocking lives through short periods of time.

    Additionally Joyce himself in his novel employs all kinds of innovative cinematic techniques with flashbacks, dissolves and close ups (Joyce was very interested in film and actually opened Dublin's first cinema in 1909, but he was a better writer than a businessman).

    Joyce hoped Eisenstein might film his book and perhaps the ultimate film of 'Ulysses' is yet to come, but in their own very different ways Joseph Strick with Ulysses (1966) and Sean Walsh with 'Bloom' have done the job for two successive generations.

    However the book - arguably the 20th century's English literary masterpiece - has an iconic status that may prevent a filmmaker departing too widely from the text. In 'Bloom' Sean Walsh, plainly a lover of Joyce, has been anxious to follow the text as closely as possible and also to create a period drama that has the genuine look and feel of the time. But while a film that remains so faithful to the text may satisfy an audience of keen Joyceans it will mystify those who have not read the book.

    Although the day in question is a century ago the book actually ranges over a plethora of surprisingly modern topics: sexual relationships including adultery, the power of the press, publicity and advertising, popular culture and music, nationalism and political cynicism, alienation, racial and ethnic prejudice, technology and consumerism - to name but a few.

    To my mind Joseph Strick's 1966 film, which is very new wave - right down to its minimalist score - and which treats the story in 'modern dress' with modern setting (for the time) had a contemporary look and feel that allowed the audience to reflect that the topics pursued were every bit as relevant to them as to the actors on the screen. By contrast 'Bloom' plays as a nice historical drama but one that is about as relevant to our own lives as Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

    Ultimately the greatest film of Ulysses will come when the filmmaker attempts not verisimilitude but instead works from a script that will be 'freely adapted from Joyce's Ulysses'. That day will come when Joyceans – and the Joyce estate – permit. But after all it is worth reflecting that Joyce's book is itself but a free adaptation of Homer's original.
  • 1904, Dublin. Stephen Dedalus is an English poet in the service of the Catholic Church in Ireland; Leopold Bloom is a tragic figure who walks the streets of Dublin while his wife, Molly, commits adultery with barely the regard to try and conceal it. With the streets of Dublin as our colourful background, we take a journey into the lives and minds of these three characters.

    Not being a cultured man I have never read Ulysses and the fact that it was 100 years since the day the story was set was not being to be enough reason for me to change that fact. However, being an uncultured man, I was very happy to watch a film version of that book and it was this that brought me to see this film on the 100th anniversary. Before the film all I knew of the main character (title character here) was that comedian Eddie Izzard had compared him to Scooby-Doo in that he was a tragic, cowardly character that we root for but I was happy to let the film show me the book (although I was aware that it was never going to be able to capture all of it). The story is very loose when considered on the level of a traditional narrative and at times it just seems to be so lost in itself that it is impossible to really care or follow. At best it is frustratingly difficult to get into and it never really feels like it has any structure apart from the start and the end. The start is a nice introduction but the ending only has structure in a rather pat attempt to give it a) some sort of ending that relates to at least one part of the film, and b) a happy ending to boot. It doesn't work and just seems to come out of nowhere even if the dialogue is great.

    The film doesn't have an epic look but that is down to it's budget and, considering that, I thought they had done well with the shoot and managed to hide a lot of it's limitations with a solid shoot. In terms of dialogue the film has several occasional highs, which I can only assume come from the book either directly or with minor amendments. However the fact that it has a nice imagination and some good visual touches does not disguise the fact that it is very uninvolving as a film and lacks enough of its other qualities to really make it worth a watch.

    The cast are mixed indeed. I thought O'Conor was pretty much absent without leave for most of his scenes and I never once got more than a vague understanding of his character and, judging by his performance, I would say that he had no better grasp than I did. Rea however is great – I had no preconception of Leopold so I felt that Rea did well to deliver a solid character in a film where almost nothing was solid. Ball may have little to do but she is also good value even if the film betrays her by making her the focal point of a happy ending having barely touched her throughout (unlike her men!). Some of the support cast are good but really the main reason I stayed with the film till the end was Rea's performance.

    Overall this is not a great film, although I do not know how it compares to the book because I have not read it (but other comments on this site make it clear what they think!). It has occasional highs that include some poetic dialogue and an interesting visual imagination but mostly it is just frustratingly difficult to get into and offers no hope. It tries to structure a plot but it only seems to have annoyed fans by being simplistic and annoyed me by being a failed attempt at story. Maybe worth seeing for it's good points but not a very good film at all and certainly not one fans should come to.
  • Cosmoeticadotcom8 September 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    Bloom is an Irish film of the James Joyce novel Ulysses by director Sean Walsh. Let me be up front- I think Ulysses is a vastly overrated book, with moments of superbness and many more moments of wretchedness. It was Joyce, Woolf, and their ilk that started a good deal of art down the road to narcissistic hermeticism. That all said, while the film Bloom is not a great film, in and of itself, it is a good film, with moments of brilliance, and does a far better job at explicating the events of the first Bloomsday, June 16th, 1904, than the book ever has, despite what pretentious critics say.

    Basically, nothing much happens on that day, yet three main characters- a married couple, Leopold (Stephen Rea) and Molly Bloom (Angeline Ball), and an aspiring artist and scholar named Stephen Dedalus (Hugh O'Conor)- protagonist of Joyce's earlier A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man. The three perambulate about the world of Dublin on that day, meeting and missing each other on several occasions. Dedalus is trammeled by his own inadequacies, and rebelling against the established order, while the Blooms deal with the slow death of their marriage, precipitated by the untimely death of their son, and aided by Molly's flagrant infidelities. Yet, the book takes these circumstances and subordinates them to the intellect, in the conceit of 'stream of consciousness' writing, which is basically unpunctuated interior dialogue. Of course, the thing about stream of consciousness is that it is really the conceit, not the real way people think, lest punctuation would never have gotten started. Think of how often your thoughts veer and back up, U-turn and screech to a halt. The mind is certainly not like a river, but more like a potholed city street.

    The film, however, does not suffer from these limitations. The visual image can work on multiple levels with far more immediacy than the word, so the 'day' of the book can be easily condensed. Some Joyceans will complain that the film takes things out of order, and mixes many of the chapters together, yet a) this is a film, not a book, and b) that is akin to deriding those who deride Joyce's approach in the book (regardless of whether or not he succeeds- I vote nay), as well as being the height of hypocrisy. There are marvelous images, and truly the cinematography is the best thing in the film. Rea is also great as Leopold Bloom, while ball and O'Conor also have moments of brilliance- including Molly Bloom's closing soliloquy- the last chapter in the book- which the filmmaker wisely opens and closes the film with, so that Molly is indelibly stamped in the viewer's mind while most of the rest of the film explores Leopold and Dedalus…. Almost all of the flaws in the film are carryover flaws from the novel. Film, in fact, would seem to be a medium that Joyce was born to indulge in. Had he been born thirty or so years later I think he may have become the first great screenwriter, and may never have dabbled in novels. Film is far closer to poetry than prose, and Joyce's prose certainly is among the closest published skirts near poetry. Instead of 'not doing justice' to the book the film really makes the book far more relevant to readers- hardcore or casual. Its only flaws, outside of the book's, is that it could have been a bit more daring. I mean, if Ulysses is rent of nudity, just how avant garde can it be?

    Overall, I recommend this film on its own right, and as sort of a Cliff's Notes to the book, especially considering the excellent director's commentary. But, it's a so-so book to begin with, so take the former notation in that light. Yes?