Director John Crowley and writer Nick Hornby never even try to temper the flood of emotions that this story elicits, instead wading straight in. Thankfully, they manage to resist sentimentality at every step, although perhaps some more offhanded, edgy humour would have helped balance it better. Because as is, this film can be rather overwhelming at times, thanks to the sensitive, honest performances from the cast and a subject most people can identify with: how it feels to leave home.
It opens in 1950, as Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) is reluctantly preparing to leave her home and family in rural Ireland for a new life in New York City, arranged with the help of an Irish priest, Father Flood (Jim Broadbent). As she settles into the boarding house run by Mrs Kehoe (Julie Walters), she gets a department store job and starts studying bookkeeping, all of which helps take her mind off her homesickness. She also meets the persistent, charming Italian-American Tony (Emory Cohen), and they fall lustily in love. Just as life doesn't seem so bad after all, Eilis gets bad news and has to travel home to see her family. There, she meets the eligible bachelor Jim (Domhnall Gleeson). And now she will have to make a decision about where her home is.
The film's tone is open and emotive from the very start, with warmly glowing cinematography, a surging musical score and lots of over-serious conversations. The hills of Ireland have never looked so green, the bustling streets of Brooklyn never seemed quite so exciting. There are some comedic touches here and there, but the main tone here can be summed up in the word "yearning". This is a film that's easy to identify with for anyone who has ever moved away from home, especially as it explores conflicting loyalties and unexpected opportunities. These themes are much stronger than the romantic triangle that drives the film forward.
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Riseborough gives her best-yet performance as Colette, a young IRA operative who visits London in 1993 and is arrested by MI5 agent Mac (Owen). He offers her a terrible deal she can't refuse: if she wants to avoid prison to raise her son, she'll have to return to Belfast and spy on her mother (Brennan) and activist brothers (Gillen and Gleeson). But when she gets home, she discovers that the IRA boss (Wilmot) knows there's a spy in their midst. Is he talking about her? Or is there another one? And Mac is also a bit nervous when his boss (Anderson) starts acting suspicious.
Continue reading: Shadow Dancer Review
Colette McVeigh is a single mother who lives with her mother in Belfast. She is a republican with tyrannical brothers in the IRA. After a terminated plot to bomb London, she is arrested for the part she played in the scheme. MI5 agent Mac offers her a choice: go to prison for 25 years (after all, she is a terrorist), or go home to her mother and son and, in turn, spy on her extremist family and pass on information to Mac. However, no sooner has she become Mac's informant than Colette is in grave danger after suspicions are raised following an ambushed secret operation of her brothers'.
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Why? While Egoyan is a master at working with cryptic source material, Felicia's Journey lends itself more to its source as a novel than the big screen. Basically, this is the story of two people. First is Felicia (Cassidy), an Irish lass who's travelled to the U.K. to search for the father of her unborn child. Along the way she encounters Joseph Hilditch (Hoskins), a sweet and friendly "catering director" who hides a secret that other critics will undoubtedly reveal, but I won't.
Continue reading: Felicia's Journey Review
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