A well-crafted miniature, this dramatization of the Joyce story directly addresses the theme of how the ‘shades’ from ‘that other world’ can still live in those who still walk the earth.
Opening hour is set exclusively in the warm Dublin town house of two spinster sisters, who every winter holiday season throw a festive party and dinner for their relatives and friends. Time is 1904.
By evening’s end, the focus clearly has been placed upon the handsome couple of Gretta and Gabriel (Anjelica Huston and Donal McCann). Back at their hotel, Gabriel attempts some rare intimacy with his distracted wife, who throws him into deep melancholy by telling him a secret of a youthful love. Gabriel sets upon a profound discourse about the living and the dead to the visual accompaniment of snow falling on bleak Irish landscapes.
Brought in for the California shoot, the virtually all-Irish cast brings the story to life completely and believably, with Helena Carroll’s big-hearted Aunt Kate and Donal Donnelly’s drunken Freddy Malins being special delights. Huston proves fully up to the demands of her emotionally draining monolog, and McCann simply is ideal as the thoughtful husband.
1987: Nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay, Costume Design