Intermittently entertaining but extremely uneven, the Irish immigration epic FAR AND AWAY plays like a theme park attraction: viscerally exciting but detached, impersonal and dull. Tom Cruise stars as Joseph Donelly, a tenant farmer in Ireland circa 1892 who starts off determined to settle
a score with Stephen (Thomas Gibson), the ruthless landlord's agent who caused his father's death. Instead, he gets sidetracked by the landowner's lovely daughter, Shannon Christie (Nicole Kidman), who abruptly, and illogically, sweeps Joseph away to accompany her to America, where she intends to
pick up land of her own in the Oklahoma Land Rush.
FAR AND AWAY may very well be the first dramatic film shot in 70mm wide-screen Panavision since David Lean's RYAN'S DAUGHTER, but Ron Howard has along way to go before he becomes a filmmaker in Lean's artistic league. His treatment of Ireland and its people is almost embarrassingly cartoonish,
depicting a country overrun by rosy-nosed leprechauns who spend all their time digging up spuds, drinking, brawling and throwing rocks at rich people. The major difference is that, for Lean, complex, challenging characters were the whole point of the film while Howard seems to find complexity of
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