Still reeling from the death of their young son, Samantha Morton and Paddy Considine,along with young daughters Sarah and Emma Bolger move from Ireland to Manhattan. Life istough. Considine can’t find any acting work, the family is forced to live in a rotting apartmentbuilding in Hell’s Kitchen, Considine in particular is stuck in the grip of the past tragedy, andMorton’s new pregnancy is fraught with complications.
The above outline makes the film sound grim as all…get-out, but it isn’t. Leavening the gloomis the fact that the film is largely seen through the eyes of the two daughters. Sarah Bolger, asthe older Christy, has a less showy role than sister Emma (whose exuberant smile would reduceSauron to a blubbering, doting basket case), but her wise-beyond-her years maturity becomesthe backbone of the film. Djimon Hounsou, as the neighbour dying of AIDS, also puts in strongwork and adds resilient hope and joy to the story. This is a film that could so very, veryeasily tumble into the worst kind of sentimental schlock, but its toughness of mind and wryhumour keeps it walking a perfect balance.
The soundtrack is blessed by some very impressive environmental effects. The first, andmost spectacular instance, occurs early in the film, as the family arrives in NYC, and the speakerserupt on all sides with a cacophony of radio voices, different stations roaring in from eachspeaker. Very cool. Elsewhere the placement of the surround effects is excellent. The dialogueis perfectly clear, though there is a stumble at one point where the level of Emma Bolger’s voiceis mixed far too low in comparison with Considine’s.
Pretty solid stuff here too, though not quite as strong as the sound. There is some ghosting,the occasionally visible bit of edge enhancement, and some minor grain. The colours areexcellent, however, ranging from a bland naturalism to deep, rich contrasts according to thefilm’s mood (which varies from gritty realism to magic realism). The colours in Time Squarewhen the family first arrives are explosive, and perfectly capture the spectacular assault on thesenses that New York City can do so well. The picture comes in both fullscreen and 1.85:1anamorphic widescreen aspects.
Director/co-producer/co-writer Jim Sheridan’s commentary is intensely intimate andpersonal, almost painfully so, as he takes us not only through the technical aspects of the film,but illuminates just how autobiographical a work this is. Both sides of the dis have thiscommentary. The fullscreen side has the usual piece of “making-of” fluff, while the widescreenside has 10 deleted scenes with commentary, including the original ending. The menu’s mainscreen is animated and scored, and the secondary screens are scored.
Moving, thoughtful, funny and harrowing, with one of the most personal commentaries Ihave ever encountered. Highly recommended.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Making-of Featurette
- Deleted Scenes with Commentary