Earthy, Honest and Fairly Accurate Drama
P. M Simon | New Mexico | 07/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Setting: Cape Random, Newfoundland, a tiny cod fishing station barely clinging to life.
Plot: In 1815, two unlikely families almost literally wash ashore. Mary Keane (Darragh Kelly), a young Irish woman with her illegitimate daughter comes as a stowaway. Mary has been tossed out of her home, watched her mother starve to death, and been raised in the Workhouse under the vilest conditions. Finally getting away as a maid, she is sexually confronted by her new master, then tossed into the streets. Her 'protector', a worthless wharf rat, impregnates her, gets her wrongly implicated in a murder, and then connives to strand her at Cape Random.
Meanwhile, the largish Andrews family comes ashore seeking not-to-be-had succor for a member, en route to a hoped-for new life after the paterfamilias (Andy Jones)lost his situation for pilferage.
These two families strain the meager resources of Station chief Thomas (Colm Meaney) and the one other family there.
This gritty, earthy Canadian-Irish miniseries realistically tackles issues of bondage, extermination of the indigenous Indians, starvation, disease, insanity, God, pregnancy, adultery and you name it as the tiny band moves from total subsistence to a bare semblance of civilization.
The series is well-acted, and well-directed. Not too much stock footage used despite an obviously modest budget. This series is well-worth a watch or two. If you like human drama, detailed 'real people' historic sagas, or the setting, this is recommended.
Comparison: Less odd and artsy than The Shipping News, less idealized and more older-times than The Bird Artist.
The DVD: Boxed set of two discs, each w. two 1.5 hr. parts. Decent audio and picture, few special features of note.
SPECIAL NOTE: This reviewer is 100% ethnic Newfie and NOT a young man. He remembers his own Grandmother Wagg, born within living memory of the times portrayed, telling many similar tales.
Nitpick: Episode Three has an encounter circa 1830 with a Beothuk native; If my memory serves, my own Newfie ancestors had, regrettably, killed them all well before this.
Unwatchable: "Little House on the Prairie" meets Newfoundlan
FYI | Truth or Consequences, New Mexico | 03/02/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I thought this would be great, since Colm Meaney is in it (the man has to make a living), and it has these rave reviews, which are so misleading that I'm compelled to provide a differing view. Instead, look for a shameless Colm Meaney in the wonderful DVD "The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain."
The filming of landscape in "Random Passage" is its only ok feature. That's it. The acting is so totally abysmal and amateurish, I couldn't believe it, or that anyone loved this cloying and cheesy piece of garbage. "Random Passage" has the smarmy production values of "Little House on the Prairie," or Spielbergian Smaltz. It begins with a beautifully filmed coastline and then quickly descends into utter stupidity soon thereafter, with some of the worst acting I've ever seen: a woman dies, yet her tongue continues to loll distractingly about her wide-open mouth, while her simpering child pretends to cry. I'm not kidding. The director should never be allowed to make anything else. It's even worse than a Lifetime movie. There are only a few minutes spent in Ireland (the tongue-rolling moment) and then it gets worse. An idiotic bodice ripper, totally unwatchable, and I couldn't subject myself to one more close-up of bad acting, with a dyed red-haired "actress" flouncing around (she's supposed to be Irish, lets sop her hair in super-orange) making bulbous goo-goo eyes in a plot that is totally unrealistic, totally unhistoric. This is like a really bad high-school play, the worst thing I've seen in a long time.
Poor Colm Meaney (excellent in "Layer Cake" and everything else, he at least is a great actor) is stuck here in a horrible role. Don't waste your time or money, get the intense and accurate Irish series "The Hanging Gale," with superb acting and historic realism (instead of this terrible costume drama). "Ballykissangel" is an entertaining comedy/drama. Here's a great selection to enjoy:
The Hanging Gale
Ballykissangel: The Complete Collection
The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain
The Secret of Roan Inish
The Quiet Man (Collector's Edition)
A Child's Christmas in Wales"
Will keep you enrapt
Julie B. | chicago, il usa | 11/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was very well done. Very interesting historically. Well-written and well-acted with characters about whom you care. Colm Meaney caught my attention - from the old STNG days and I was interested in seeing it because of him. He was very good, but so were all the others around him,even though they are not known by American audiences. I think there were moments when my eyes were misty, and it had a satisfying ending. I believe I actually watched the whole thing in one sitting. Sounds cliche - but it was 'very compelling'."
FYI | 02/22/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the most enjoyable dvd's I have viewed this year. The technical aspects of photography are top notch. Lighting, camera angles, sharpness and natural color are outstanding. Each member of the cast does a wonderful performance. This six and a half hour story in four one and one half hour segments moves at a comfortable pace. I did one segment per evening and found myself eager to move to the next segment. It is a fine story and a good visual representation of early times in a remote area of New Foundland. This is a outstanding family film filled with strong family values, however, some scenes may not be appropriate for the very young.