If there's anything worse than admitting a love for Far and Away, it's probably also admitting a love for Enya's "Book of Days," the new-age singer's single from the film's soundtrack. Well, maybe I should just head off to film critic prison for this one, then, because I listened to my Far and Away CD a whole lot when I was a younger man -- and didn't even skip the Razzie-award nominated track.

Anyway, about the film: Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman play Irish immigrants who hate each other until they realize they're in love (a romantic plot that never fails!), with an epic story that traces them from their homeland, to Boston and on to Oklahoma, during the late 1800s. It is something of a historical farce, and generalization full of Irish stereotypes, which was blasted by critics and did only so-so at the box office, but I think it is Ron Howard's best-looking film, at the very least. And it exists unfortunately as Mikael Salomon's last film as a cinematographer before trying a relatively unsuccessful hand at directing. I may have had a small crush on Kidman before Far and Away, thanks originally to BMX Banditsand later to Dead Calm, but the way Salomon lit her up in one scene -- the one inside the house they've broken into, with the snow falling outside the window -- made me fall in love. And, obviously I forgive her for being incorrect in her handling of her accent (technically, Cruise's horrible-sounding accent is the correct one).

Finally, the movie just keeps building up steam, climaxing with a brilliantly staged depiction of the Oklahoma Land Rush. After the whole journey is complete, it was impossible for me not to think, as a boy, that this was what great filmmaking is all about. Of course, I was wrong, and looking back I can spot a lot more problems than I had then, but I still can't deny having a thing for it. It remains, far and away (har har), my favorite of Howard's films.
categories Features, Cinematical