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3.8 out of 5 stars12
3.8 out of 5 stars
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2001
James Joyce (Ewan McGregor) as a young university student finds his spiritual and sexual equal and partner in life in Nora Barnacle (Susan Lynch). Although the class difference is obvious to all but the pair, they fall in love against the advice of his friends who lust after Nora. Joyce convinces Nora to join him in Italy where he has a teaching position. The two begin their lives together living beyond their means, dressing fashionably, and fighting while raising children. Nora is anything but a quiet professor's wife. She is the life force that motivates Joyce. Although one of the major literary talents of the twentieth century, Joyce as McGregor presents him is insecure, neurotic, and insanely jealous. Theirs is a volatile relationship prone to public outbursts and sexual abandon.
Susan Lynch won the best actress award at the Dublin Film Festival for her performance as the earthy muse whose presence is as much a torture as inspiration to Joyce. Ewan McGregor in his first adult leading role proves he has matured as an actor of solid talent and sensitivity beyond juvenile leads. Shot on location in Ireland and Italy, Nora is a small independent film produced by McGregor's production company, Natural Nylon, and likely to be overlooked by most audiences. However, if solid acting, adult story lines, and turn-of-the-century costume biopics are your cup of tea, this film is worthy of its purchase price. The DVD version includes interviews with principal actors and director Pat Murphy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a film I didn't know existed, on a topic I thought no-one else would be interested in, but it had a well-known actor in the role of Joyce, which encouraged me. Even so, I didn't know what to expect. What I discovered was a little gem, sometimes happy, sometimes sad and sometimes obscene. It will appeal to lovers of the writings of James Joyce, but it could also appeal to anyone interested in a story about a man and a woman and their relationship. Joyce's writing is always there in the background but this film is called Nora, not Jim, and it is above all Nora's story, a large part of which is also Jim's story.

Nora is Nora Barnacle, a name that to my shame I have always found amusing. From now on I will treat the name with more respect. She was the lover, life-partner and wife to the writer James Joyce. Nora was from Galway and had a straight-forward attitude to life. Joyce was from Dublin, a highly educated young man dedicated to his literary ambitions. The film begins with their meeting in Dublin in 1904 and ends just before Joyce publishes his first major work, Dubliners, in 1914. Some of the story is in a gloomy oppressive guilt-ridden Dublin, some in rural Galway but most of the time is spent in expressive, Italian, sunny Trieste on the Adriatic coast where Joyce was a language teacher, an exile escaping Ireland.

BLOOMSDAY: The film starts with Nora leaving Galway on the train to Dublin, but it really starts a little later when on a Dublin street she first meets James Joyce. This was the 16 June 1904, a date now known as Bloomsday, the day when Leopold Bloom, the "hero" of Joyce's book Ulysses, wanders around Dublin. To use this date shows Joyce's honouring of Nora, but despite this, living with him must have been a nightmare. He drank to excess; he was insecure, jealous and selfish. He was totally dedicated to his ambitions as a writer, this took priority over relationships and sometimes he manipulated relationships in the cause of his writing. And they were always short of money and had two children to support.

THE FILM successfully balances commercial interest with serious biography. This is demonstrated by the support of the Irish film board, RTE and EU, German and Italian film funding bodies - it was filmed in Ireland, Italy and Germany. The music, which is quite good, is by Stanislaw Syrewicz. Nora is played by Susan Lynch and Joyce by Ewan McGregor. The film lasts a respectable 102 minutes, just over an hour and a half. It is based on the book Nora by Brenda Maddox.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2013
A superb low key film film which examines the relationship between James Joyce and his wife Nora Barnacle. So often the non celebrity partner of biographical movie is a supporting part; a mirror to the genius. But not in this case.
From a acting viewpoint Susan Lynch (Nora) acts everyone else under the table; a wide ranging explorations of active and reactive emotions, she steals every scene. Not that the rest of the cast is poor, just not as good.

In terms of storyline is demonstrates how genius can milk and almost drive to destruction their acquaintances and partners.

The pace is very French nineteen eighties with people talking and listening, rare in the movies nowadays where action is de rigeur.
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37 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on 8 July 2002
Because the costumes, sets and actors in this film are so attractive you might be forgiven for expecting Nora to be good. It's not. Nora is a failure and not even a heroic one. It starts off well enough with the young James Joyce (Ewan McGregor) meeting the love of his life, Nora Barnacle, (Susan Lynch) on a Dublin Street in 1904. The film moves at a pace and seems to be gathering momentum when the young couple head off to Trieste and the narrative grinds to a virtual halt. And people talk not very good dialogue. Endlessly. And make love graphically. As though an audience will be interested.
I had hoped Joyce's love for Nora might be presented in his own words. No such luck. The scriptwriter, it seems, wasn't going to allow Joyce to intrude on her efforts, more's the pity, so there's little of Joyce's language in the script. Alas. (Compare Huston's use of words in The Dead and the late great Donal McCann's wonderful reading of that final soliloquy) There's nothing to match it in Nora. Not that Joyce had written his masterpieces until later on. Even so, Nora could have mouthed them instead the banal chit-chat and ludicrous humping that passes for passion in all the familiar, cliched bedroom scenes. An embarrassment. Worse, we are obliged to watch Joyce abusing Joyce in a cinema while reading a letter from Nora. For pity sake have pity!
So why did they go to Trieste in the first place? Who knows ? The script doesn't bother explaining in any detail why they make this giant leap into the unknown. Later, Joyce's brother arrives to stay with Nora and Jim. Why? The script doesn't seem to care. Joyce goes to Dublin and opens a cinema. Why? The script fails to elaborate. Nora and Joyce break up and reunite in Dublin. Why? Because he's worse than what she's got? Really? Could you elaborate? Or would that be too much to expect from this mean spirited foul mouthed film. Joyce must be spinning.
Susan Lynch as Nora gives a one note performance. Feisty. There is no depth or subtlety. Shouting passes for acting. Same with McGregor. Humping and yelling. Trying to fool an audience into believing it's drama. And on it goes for almost two tedious hours never matching the pace of the first fifteen minutes, pausing in all the wrong places and showing occasionally the promise of a good movie but never fulfilling it. And we're reminded at the end that Joyce became a great writer. So there. In case you didn't know. Best thing in the film? McGregor and Lynch singing a duet. Pity they didn't make it a musical. Anything would have been better than this self indulgent pap.
On the DVD there is an interview - of sorts - with the leads and with the director. Looking bored with the whole thing. And a short selection of the crew at work (why? to fill up space on the disc?) And a trailer. Wish I could get my money back on this one. Nora is not even a good bad film. Nora is a
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2008
This beautiful period piece attempts the difficult task of comprehending, and then portraying on the screen, nothing less that the creative process.

James Joyce (Ewan McGregor) met Nora Barnacle (Susan Lynch) in 1904 when she was a maid in a Dublin Hotel, and the attraction was immediate and mutual. Joyce is said to be a writer who lived what he wrote, and Barnacle, throughout their volcanic relationship, was as much muse as lover. But at what point does a writer's obsessions, fears and jealousy cause a muse to become a guinea pig?
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on 9 December 2014
Nora batty she aint but a gentle sweet movie with a great cast.
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on 10 August 2015
Comedy irish accents. Weak story. Waste of money.
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on 6 September 2014
Very pleased. Thanks.
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on 28 January 2015
Lovely film
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2013
I love Ewan McGregor but this was not one of his best movies but if you're a E McG fan you have to have it.
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