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Despite its soft drugs plot, Saving Grace feels out of touch with modern life

Saving Grace

(15) 94 mins at *

Saddled with crushing debts after the sudden death of her husband, keen horticulturist Grace (Brenda Blethyn) rs faced with the prospect of losrng her Cornish mansion and its magnificent garden. With the assistance of her Scottish gardener, Matthew (Craig Ferguson), she devrses an unusual money-making scheme that utilises her green fingers, namely transforming her greenhouse into a marijuana plantation. But can these dope growers avoid being detected by the authorities and find a purchaser for their high- quality wares?

Already being touted as this year’s feelgood British comedy, Saving Grace attempts to recapture the magic of such Ealing classics as Passport To Pim/ico and Whisky Galore. These comic fantasies reflected the mood and

mind-set of a post-war Britain, still SUDJQCI to extensive rationing, Saving Grace, however , despite its soft drugs plotlrne, feels out touch wrth modern life. Particularly rt its depiction of a quaint Cornish community, which is exclusively peopled by ’lovable’ eccentrics.

Admittedly Blethyn blends sure comic timing With a sense of her character’s emotional confusion, But the screenplay, co-written by Ferguson and Mark Crowdy, struggles to obtain the necessary farcrcal momentum. Instead, it gets bogged down With a dull sub- plot about the pregnancy of Matthew’s girlfriend (played by Valerie Edmond), then hits the buffers With a preposterous depiction of London's drug world, before reaching its drsapporntrngly contrived ending. rTom Dawson)

General release from Fri 79 May.

Portrait of a free-spirited, highly courageous young woman

Nora (15) 106 mins at t ‘k

A period drama recounting the early struggles of modernist and post- modernist literary genius James Joyce, Nora, as its title suggests, is more interesting as a study of a free-spirited and highly courageous young woman. Fleeing her native Galway when threatened with violence and banishment to a convent by her uncle, Nora Barnacle (Susan Lynch) arrives in Dublin in 1904. Transcendrng restrictions of class that women at that time were subjected to, Nora takes up with Joyce (Ewan McCsregor), at the time a university student, while working as a chamberrnard and together they escape to Trieste. Pat Murphy's film, adapted from Brenda Maddox’s acclaimed book about their lifelong love affair, then follows the early years of their tempestuous relationship, made so by Joyce’s unrelenting jealousy and Nora's

32 THELIST II- 25 May 2000

submissive dotage.

Less portrait of the artist as a young man, what we have here is more portrait of the artist as a manipulative, wee bastard. There’s very little that’s likeable in this portrayal of a man who uproots a woman from her country only to SUDJQCI her to his alcoholism and Jealous rages. The film is, however, saved by stunning Cinematography from Jean Francors Robin (Betty Blue) who captures the repressive dark streets of Dublin and the contrasting light-suffused vrtalrty of Trieste. Excellent performances from the leads also make this worth watching, especially that from the gorgeous Susan Lynch playing a woman who was in reality desperately unattractive. (Catherine Bromley‘i Glasgow: GFT,‘ Edinburgh; film/rouse from Fri 79 May Ewan McGregor makes personal appearances at charity screenings of Nora at both cinemas on Sun 27 and Mon 22 May, respec tive/y.


(18)112mins tint-cit

Art house smut or blatent pornography 7 Who cares, brother .7 When movres are this ballsy,

provocative and filthin erotic you know its great to be alive.

Y is a high school Lolita who frncls herself in a Rea/m Of The Senses-style sexual dance into oblivion With 38- year-old sculptor, J. The relationship is the result of Y’s best friend Woorr’s obsession With the SCqutor, for whom Y makes contact due to her friend’s shyness. Woorr is left to worship her hero by proxy while Y and J run the sexual gamut from mild deflowering to coprophrlia

Director Jang Sun Woo has made a remarkable film that reeks of Bertrand Blrer (Les Va/seuses) at his best. The sex scenes constantly teeter on the edge of explortation and docudrama sleaze. Woo ups the ante by including short, uncomfortable mtervrew segments With the actors. While concentrating on the sado-masochistrc progression of the lovers, the film allows essential truths about Korean sooety to seep through, but never overpower its lusty narrative. Lee Sang Hun and Kim Tae Yeon as the two leads are brave and good beyond the call of duty.

This rs a refreshingly fetid blast of Seoul arr. (Paul Dale)

I Edinburgh: Film/rouse Tue 23 81 Thu 25 May

Provocative and filthin erotic

The Virgin Suicides

(15) 96 mins st ii in?

American suburbia lit the 1970s. The five beautiful Lisbon Sisters live in isolation With their strict parents, adored from afar by the neighbourhood boys. When the girls begin killing themselves one-by-one, there's nothing the boys can do but watch, and afterwards carry into their adult lives regret and confusion and a terrible sense of loss.

Sofia Coppola's feature frlrn writing- clrrectrng debut, adapted from Jeffrey Eugenides' novel, casts a spell over its audience. It’s a strange, dreamy film shot through With a beautiful, melancholic nostalgia. The central mystery is never resolved, and the frlrn remains all the more powerful for it The 70s fashion is appropriately kitsch, but its the ethereal soundtrack by Arr sounding like Pink Floyd circa Dark Side Of The Moon and the hazy, back-lit photography that really evokes the era, and lost adolescent years.

Coppola is served by a fine cast: Kathleen Turner and James Woods, playing against type as the parents, Kirsten Dunst as the sexually precocious oldest sister Lux, and Josh Hartnett as the superbly-named hrghschool heart-throb, Trip Fontarne. Ultimately, the film rs Coppola’s, by rnanagrng to make the intangible mood so overwhelming she proves herself a new directing talent to be reckoned wrth. (Miles Fielder)

I Glasgow." GFT,‘ Edinburgh: (fameo from Fri 79 May See feature, page 77.

Shot through With a melancholic nostalgia

Snow Falling 0n

Cedars (15) 126 mins 1k **

A remote island off the Pacific Northwest coast circa I950. Kazuo Mryamoto (Rick Yune), an American war-hero of Japanese descent, has been charged wrth the murder of a fellow-fisherman and childhood friend. Watching the trial from the gallery is Ishmael (Ethan Hawke), a one-armed World War II veteran who once had a clandestine affair With the wrfe of the accused, Hatsue (Youki Kudoh), while they were both teenagers. Can Ishmael now let go of his lingering bitterness and bring forward the evrclence which might set Ka/uo free7

Adapted from Davrcl Gtrtersori's best-selling novel, directoi Scott Hrcks’s follow- up to Shine turns out to be a solemn, rather uninvolvrng exploration of memory, racial prejudice and reconcrlration. Repeatedly cutting backwards and forwards in trrne, Hicks and crriematograpl‘ier Robert Richardson certainly establish the dank, oppressive atmosphere of this isolated fishing community, Yet the filmmakers have tried to cram too many strands into their Jigsaw-pu/xle narrative with a consequent lack of dramatic focus.

Hawke’s lrrnrted emotional range becomes apparent in his remote performance. More impressive are the craggy contributions of character actors James Reborn, James Cromwell and Max Von Sydow Lost, however, arnrd the frantic cutting and the crashing score is a sense of how the romantic leads actually feel.

(Torn Dawson) I Glasgow: GFT, Edinburgh: Film/rouse from Fri 72 May. See preview

A solemn exploration of memory, racial prejudice and reconciliation