Far and Away

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman star in old-fashioned hokum on a very high level–the sort of thing Hollywood used to do well and more often–in a Ron Howard blockbuster about Irish immigration to the U.S. in the 1890s. Written by Bob Dolman and Howard and shot with Panavision super-70 camera equipment using 65-millimeter stock, this epic utopian fantasy about love overcoming class barriers (complete with a passing nod to It Happened One Night) is designed like a triptych, beginning in rural Ireland (where tenant farmer Cruise falls in with Kidman, the rebellious daughter of his wealthy landlord, when she decides to flee to the U.S.), continuing in Boston (where they share the same room, posing as brother and sister, and he triumphs for a while as a boxer), and concluding in the Oklahoma Territory (where they proceed separately to stake their claims). Never afraid of excess, Howard excels at giving imaginative density to the Boston locations and exploiting the chemistry between the two leads; he also shows a nice aptitude for story telling. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s mere overreaching and what’s nostalgia for Hollywood’s former grandiloquence–Howard certainly seems to love his fancy corkscrew crane shots–but for me this is the most enjoyable of his features to date. With Thomas Gibson, Robert Prosky, Barbara Babcock, Colm Meaney, Eileen Pollock, Michelle Johnson, and Cyril Cusack. (Edens, Golf Mill, Lincoln Village, 900 N. Michigan, Evanston, Norridge, Webster Place, Ford City)

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