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December Bride
December Bride
Actors: Brenda Bruce, Cathleen Delaney, Ciar√°n Hinds, Patrick Malahide, Donal McCann
Director: Thaddeus O'Sullivan
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2009     1hr 25min

Winner of 14 International Film Awards — Love has no boundaries — Set in Ireland in the years following World War I and based on the novel by Sam Hanna Bell, December Bride is the tale of a young woman who defies all and red...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Brenda Bruce, Cathleen Delaney, Ciar√°n Hinds, Patrick Malahide, Donal McCann
Director: Thaddeus O'Sullivan
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance
Studio: Bfs Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 02/10/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A unique and exquisite portrayal of emotions
a superintelligent shade of the col | minneapolis | 04/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film goes to places in the heart i've never seen in the cinema before. Sarah, a fiercely independent woman in rural Ireland, loves two brothers. Rather than bowing to religious pressure to marry one or the other, she chooses them both and rejects the church. Together, they form a family bond stronger than their conservative community can break. The pacing and cinematography remind me of Ingmar Bergman at his best - in other words, incredibly slow and dreary to Americans who can't imagine a movie without car crashes, cheesy jokes, and graphic sex. The rainy, rolling Irish landscape and long silences provide the room for deep and subtle emotions to develop. It's more like a really good play than a movie. So if beauty, depth, and sensitivity are your thing, you'll love it. If you want action or a pat chick-flick romance, go watch some Hollywood blockbuster."
Costume drama coloured by the Northern Ireland Troubles.
darragh o'donoghue | 01/14/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"'December Bride', the story of a servant girl who takes her two masters as lovers in a bleakly Presbyterian rural Ulster community, has been called one of the rare art films in the Irish cinema. It certainly has a compositional care and beauty almost entirely absent from this country. I don't just mean the filming of nature - anyone can stick a camera in front of striking landscape and call it beautiful; director O'Sullivan's achievement is his interplay between this landscape, with its different seasonal characters and its changes under light, its individual components (trees, lake, sky, plains, hills) and the human players it (often literally) frames, expressing the emotional solitude of one, the patient labour of another, or the rigid groupings of the community, lined outside church or formed in sinister marching bands.'Bride' might also be called an art-film in the way it treats narrative. The film is based on a 1951 novel by Sam Hanna Bell which is written in a residual 19th century style, with character psychology, motivation and social status clearly related to the action. O'Sullivan removes all explanatory frameworks, refusing to add audience-friendly voiceover or any contextual informaton that would explain the historical setting or the economic, social, political and sectarian realities. Dramatic set-pieces in the novel are compressed into elliptical tableaux which the viewer has to connect and elaborate. This has the effect of making the material more modernist, giving the story its proper poetic and symbolic weight, making the action more abrupt and private; but it also prevents us from understanding or truly sympathising with the characters. This compression and excision is also, of course, in the service of a particular viewpoint. Unlike the novel, the film is made with two decades' knowledge of the Northern Irish Troubles, and it was impossible for O'Sullivan to avoid treating a story about the land, religion, sectarianism, community and the Orange Order without political hindsight, adding layers Bell couldn't have foreseen. This sometimes coarsens the work, in particular the crucial climax, in which the pagan, but Chekhov-coloured games (men competing in events to win ladies' scarves etc.) takes place on the same site as a bleating Orange rally. Paradoxically, the lack of detail (O'Sullivan wanted to universalise the story) serves to dehistoricise and depoliticise the source. The limited budget also causes the film to falter on occasion, the drowning accident and the trip to Belfast diminished by their lack of scope.O'Sullivan has said that the directors such as Dreyer and Bergman influenced the film's muted visuals - one can see this most clearly in the representation of Puritan Ulster life, the black clothes, pinched expressions and bare interiors evoking a chilly, oppressive, loveless religious existence. This is contrasted with the bright greens of the fields and the shining mirror-blue of the lake. O'Sullivan's direction, however, avoids the true rigour of an art-film - the editing and music lead the viewer too much, not always trusting them. The film nevertheless is more pessimistic than the novel, made in the unavoidable knowledge of what came after."
A thoughtful gem of a film, an amazing female character
The Curious Miss Bibliophilly | Pasadena, CA | 01/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The film is thoughtful and provocative. Set in rural Northern Ireland a century ago, Sarah is strong, fiercely independent young woman whose will cannot be bent by society, convention, the community in which she lives, the church or the men around her. She is an unexpected heroine - starting out inauspiciously quiet and seemingly timid, then eventually blossoming.

The film is quiet and thoughtful, slowly letting the characters develop and reveal themselves. The scenery is beautiful, showing the coastal area of Ireland in both dazzling and dreary splendor.

The film's characters challenge the mores of society. In some ways the world hasn't changed as much as it would seem, and Sarah still stands out as a rebel against the fate of a woman and how she is judged."
Beautiful, carefully made
opusv5 | 11/26/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This beautifully shot and paced film tells of Sarah (Saskia Reeves)who goes to work at a young age for the landowning Ecklund family in the pre-six counties Ulster of almost a century ago. After Ecklund senior sacrifices his life to save hers and his two sons during a storm, she develops an independence shocking to an intolerant age and place: forsaking Presbyterian church services, helping the sons manage their property while sleeping with both and refusing to marry either at the request of the local minister (Patrick Malahide)after she gives birth to a daughter. Twenty years later her daughter begs her to marry so that she herself can become a "legitimate" bride. Sarah realizes her unbending independence has made her as rigid as the society she rejected, and she finally weds one of the sons(Donal McCann).The film ends with her overlooking the bleak, omniscient Strangford Lough around which the film is set, telling her grateful daughter: "Our children must live. Things move on.""