IN THE ACTOR’S SPOTLIGHT WITH TOM CRUISE REVIEW: “Far and Away” stars Tom Cruise (War of the Worlds , Knight and Day), Nicole Kidman (Lion, The Others), Thomas Gibson (Dharma & Greg [TV series], Criminal Minds [TV series]), Robert Prosky (Dead Man Walking, Christine), Barbara Babcock (Space Cowboys, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman [TV series]), Cyril Cusack (Fahrenheit 451 , 1984), Colm Meaney (Con Air, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine [TV series]), Wayne Grace (Mullholand Drive, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), and Eileen Pollock (Bread [TV series], Psychosis). It is directed by Ron Howard (Splash, In the Heart of the Sea), while the screenplay was written by Bob Dolman (Willow, The Banger Sisters). Irishman Joseph Donnelly (Cruise) desires to own his own land and make a name for himself; Shannon Christie (Kidman), daughter of an Irish landlord, desires to flee her parents and forge a life of her own. Together, they both sail to America in hopes of obtaining their dreams, though various struggles force them into situations they never intended to be in.
There are many things that define the genre of epic, and though “Far and Away” isn’t given the categorization (or runtime) to be considered one, it sure does boast plenty of qualities that resemble the format. It’s a sprawling story of freedom, romance, and making a name for oneself, hardly being a tale of getting from point A to point B, but rather an observation of a section of someone’s life (well, two people that is). Ron Howard flicks can vary in their quality, and while I find him inconsistent, I was impressed by his Cruise-Kidman feature. The movie has a charm to it, exuded by the gorgeous cinematography and special chemistry shared by the two onscreen (and during this, offscreen) stars. Not only was Cruise fantastic in his role, but Kidman surprised me as well. They both delivered on taking their characters further than the dialogue could (which was rather simple writing) and sold me on their accents. It was weird seeing Cruise nail am Irish tongue, considering how he doesn’t really look Irish nor have I seen him speak in an accent other than his go-to American. I believed his role, as he stayed consistent and often entertaining. What adds to the charm of this feature is it’s lighthearted humor; surprisingly, I laughed a few times watching it. It’s not the kind of jokes that’ll have you rolling on the floor, but enough to get a good chuckle. If anything, it breathes life into this story that could’ve ended up being boring or dull. For two hours and twenty minutes, we are subjected to the lives of a poor Irish farmer and a spoiled landlord’s daughter as they ditch their current situations in Ireland and seek opportunity in America. Obviously, we can plan out how this story will end up; there’s conflict laden throughout the plot, with both our leads in heated argument constantly and fighting for their dreams. These obstacles are juggled nicely, and while I could predict the outcome of many things, it was all executed well. As I’ve stated, the chemistry between Cruise and Kidman is electric. Both of them held their own and were given their own spotlight to add depth to their characters. The cinematography and atmosphere “Far and Away” presented is likened to many of my experiences with epics: powerful and grand. I loved seeing the landscapes of Ireland and old America, whether it be Boston or the Oklahoma frontier. All of it was wonderful and hard to forget. On top of that, the score was fantastic, composed by none other than John Williams. I’d recommend you listen to the soundtrack alone, even though there aren’t any themes that get stuck in your head like “Star Wars” or “Indiana Jones.” All of the pieces that formed “Far and Away” were great, and I commend Howard for putting together a lovely production. Most of my complaints are directed towards story, whether it be predictable plot elements or moments to nitpick, like the emotion conveyed when Donnelly’s house was being burned down (there was none). All in all, Cruise delivers as well as the rest of the crew in this entertaining, and often engaging, experience. FINAL SCORE: 89%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: