Monday, 11 January 2016

Review: A Nightingale Falling

A review of the independent Irish film.

Created on a budget of just under 100,000 euros Garret Daly and Martina McGlynn’s film, A Nightingale Falling, opened in IMC cinemas and other independent venues on 12th September.

Set in Ireland during the War of Independence, this film, based on the novel by P.J. Curtis, takes a fresh slant on what can be described as the “clichéd overdone-ness” of this period. The viewers are introduced to two Protestant sisters, May (Tara Breathnach) and Tilly Collingwood (Muireann Bird) of Glebe House, who are very much a part of their small village in rural Ireland.

Throughout the film, lines blur as the viewer’s stereotypical views of the period are challenged. Tilly Collingwood the protestant daughter of a deceased land owner is interested in Jackie Nolan (Elliot Moriarty), a catholic farmhand’s son who is involved in activities with the I.R.A, which both sisters seem aware of. Tom Nolan (Brian Fortune) the farmhand of the Collingwood’s sings only praise for May and Tilly’s father, who served as a Colonel in the British Army before settling in Ireland. Though, May considers herself Irish and proclaims hope, when the war has ended, for “my” little nation becoming a dominion of the British Empire; she still has no problem in nursing an injured British soldier she finds shot in her yard and saving herself from a raid by the black and tans by telling them her father fought for the British Empire.

Alongside this backdrop of war which raises conflicting ideas of Irish identity, a family drama is unfolding within Glebe house. Tensions become heightened as May nurses the British Soldier back to health, and her younger, more naïve sister, Tilly, falls for him. The plot of the drama is undoubtedly an interesting one which captivates the viewer.

The fact an Independent Irish Film made headlines, winning Best Independent Feature at The Underground Cinema Film Festival in Dublin and reached the cinema is a huge feat; however, every film is not without its criticism.

The narration of the film felt disconnected, leaving the viewer to initially ask if this film was striving to be a documentary, particularly in the opening scene. It seemed that a lot of what had been said by the narration of May Collingwood, could in fact have been shown through acting or dialogue.

 The flowery, long-wielding sentences that both Tilly and May spoke, though, most likely with the intent of setting Tilly and May apart from the catholic workmen and the regulars of the local public house, did not seem natural and created a stiltedness throughout.

It is clear that that the story, A Nightingale Falling is a very captivating tale with a great plot that keeps the cinema-goer intrigued; however, with its tight budget and disconnected narration, perhaps more justice would have been given  to this story if it had been turned into a staged play rather than a film.

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