Sunday, April 25, 2010

Review: Ryan's Daughter (1970)

When someone says David Lean, usually two movies come to people's minds. Those are The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia. These are great movies, but because of them some other brilliant films are forgotten such as Brief Encounter, A Passage to India and Ryan's Daughter.
Or you can also say that these movies are so dated and boring, despite their greatness. Or you can say that they are really empty with a icturesque cover. But I would not accept that.
Rosy Ryan (Sarah Miles) is a young Irish woman, who falls for an older man (Robert Mitchum) and marries him. Soon she finds herself unhappy and wants something more until she begins a passionate affair with an English officer. However, in a little Irish villiage this is not the most acceptable thing to do.
Now I have to ask myself? This is a beautiful and dull movie or a real masterpiece? I'm saying that this movie was just amazing, and probably the best one of David Lean (after Brief Encounter). Ryan's Daughter is widely considered as a disappointment, but I think it's not fair: that title should go to Doctor Zhivago (which does not have much to do with the book).
There's something else that came to my mind: this movie is so much like Breaking the Waves. Of course Ryan's Daughter is not that weird, but I strongly believe that there's some sort of connection between these two great pieces.
In addition, Sarah Miles really looks like Emily Watson (and mix her a bit with Julie Christie). Although she's not as brilliant as Watson, she's still exceptional. She manages to show the emotions and doubts of this not so complicated woman very well, so I believe that the nomination was very well-deserved, even though Glenda Jackson was an obvious choice for the win.
Another good choice for the win was John Mills, who plays the village idiotic excellently. I'm not 100% sure that he was better than Chief Dan George in Little Big Man, but Mills gave a really worthy performance, so you can't complain about this win.
Robert Mitchum is also brilliant, but the performance I really want to mention is the one given by Trevor Howard as the decent priest of the village. I think he easily could have been nominated that Oscar. But again, I'm fine with John Mills' win.
Despite the great performances and the magnificent and accurate directing by David Lean, the movie's effect is mostly due to the cinematography. Boy, I had really high expectations with the cinematography (well it beat Patton and Women in Love) but this movie exceeded them. I was really speechless in the storm scene, it was unbelievably beautiful.
So to sum up this movie was truly-truly great and I really don't get it why it received terrible reviews when it was released. I was impressed.
Grade: 9/10
Nominations: Best Actress (Miles); Best Supporting Actor (Mills, WON); Best Cinematography (WON); Best Sound
My wins: I agree with the Academy. And it should have received a Best Score nomination.

1 comment:

Louis Morgan said...

A good film. It seemed to get most of its negative reviews because of Lean's choice in camera techniques, almost seemed they were a little jealous of his abilities. My only problem with the film is Christopher Jones' performance which left something to be desired. Otherwise than that the film is very interesting with the great performances by Mills, Mitchum, Howard and Leo McKern.