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Customer Review

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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