movie film review | chris tookey

Ryan's Daughter

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  Ryan's Daughter Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
5.69 /10
Sarah Miles , Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard
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Directed by: David Lean
Written by: Robert Bolt

Released: 1970
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: GB
Colour: C
Length: 206

In 1916 Ireland, the wife (Sarah Miles, pictured right) of a village schoolteacher (Robert Mitchum, left) falls in love with a British officer (Christopher Jones).
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Magnificent Irish scenery, over-the-top romantic performances, and painfully cliched sexual symbolism (waves crashing, stallions neighing...) add up to David Lean's most vulgar film: an emotional wallow of epic proportions, popular with punters but clobbered by the critics. John Mills (unrecognisable) steals the acting honours from Sarah Miles (excitable), Trevor Howard (reliable) and Robert Mitchum (barely awake). Freddie Young's photography is wonderful, though, and the storm sequence is a classic.

"No one ever caught on that Ryan's Daughter was actually an adaptation of Madame Bovary."

(David Lean)

A brilliant enigma, brilliant, because director David Lean achieves to a marked degree the daring and obvious goal of intimate romantic tragedy along the rugged geographical and political landscape of 1916 Ireland; an enigma, because overlength of perhaps 30 minutes serves to magnify some weaknesses of Robert Bolt's original screenplay, to dissipate the impact of the performances, and to overwhelm outstanding photography and production.
Never dull or boring... Ryan's Daughter has the best storm [in the history of cinema]: the best, the most splendid, the most terrifying. As always in a David Lean film the acting is finely balanced. A beautiful, impressive, well-staged and well-acted film but not really four hours' worth of drama.
(Halliwell's Film Guide, 2004)
Gush made respectable by millions of dollars tastefully wasted.
(Pauline Kael, New Yorker)
Instead of looking like the money it cost to make, the film feels like the time it took to shoot.
(Alexander Walker, Evening Standard)
A folie de grandeur.
(David Shipman, The Good Film and Video Guide, 1986)
An awe-inspiringly tedious lump of soggy romanticism... banal, predictable, ludicrously overblown, it drags on interminably.
(Tom Milne, Time Out)

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