Review: ‘Conamara’

Attractive photography of the titular village situated on the Atlantic coast of Ireland can't save this humdrum triangular love story from its deeply rooted cliches, and no amount of Dogma-like improvisation can imbue what is basically a soap opera with the reality it seeks to achieve.

Attractive photography of the titular village situated on the Atlantic coast of Ireland can’t save this humdrum triangular love story from its deeply rooted cliches, and no amount of Dogma-like improvisation can imbue what is basically a soap opera with the reality it seeks to achieve. Mundane German-Irish co-production isn’t likely to excite cinema audiences, and only the most tolerant couch potatoes will seek it out in ancillary.

Maria (Ellen Ten Damme) moved from her native Holland to Conamara some 10 years ago and is married to the amiable Antaine (Darragh Kelly); they have a 9-year-old daughter, and life is filled with contentment until the arrival of Axel (Andreas Schmidt), a German with whom Maria had a hot affair before her marriage. Axel settles in for a long stay, becomes Antaine’s partner in a tourist operation, and is soon bedding the compliant Maria. A labored subplot involves the sickly parish priest and his devoted housekeeper. Director Eoin Moore, Berlin-based since his teens, strives mightily to bring these cardboard characters to life, but there’s nothing new in these familiar situations. The tragic conclusion comes across as contrived and manipulative.

Conamara

Germany-Ireland

Production

A Bavaria Film presentation of a Boje Buck Prods. (Berlin)/More Films Ltd. (Dublin) co-production, with the support of Hessischer Rundfunk, Arte, Irish Film Board. (International sales: Bavaria Film Intl., Munich.) Produced by Claus Boje, Detlev Buck. Directed by Eoin Moore. Screenplay, Greg O'Braonain, Moore.

Crew

Camera (color), Michael Hammon; editor, Dirk Grau; music, Warner Poland, Kai-Uwe Kohlschmidt; production designer, David Doran; costume designer, Aisling Byrne. Reviewed at Sydney Film Festival, June 21, 2001. Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Ellen Ten Damme, Darragh Kelly, Andreas Schmidt, Rosaleen Linehan, Garrett Keogh, Mairtin Jamsie, Maighread Ni Chonghaile, Katie Nic Dhonnacha.
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