O’faolain doc­u­men­tary charts a life well-lived

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News -

If you missed the mov­ing doc­u­men­tary about Nuala O’faolain dur­ing the Jame­son Dublin Film Fes­ti­val, be aware that the movie will play on RTÉ 1 at 9.30pm this Mon­day. Nuala: A Life and Death, which won the Dublin Film Crit­ics Cir­cle’s prize for best Ir­ish film at JDIFF, de­serves to have a life be­yond tele­vi­sion.

Nar­rated and pro­duced by O’faolain’s close friend Mar­ian Fin­u­cane, the film de­tails the writer’s dif­fi­cult child­hood as the daugh­ter of the charis­matic but ne­glect­ful gos­sip colum­nist Terry O’sul­li­van. There are agree­able sketches of life in Bo­hemian Dublin dur­ing the 1960s, musings on Nuala’s long ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship with Nell Mccaf­ferty (who does not con­trib­ute) and a cel­e­bra­tion of her late rise to in­ter­na­tional fame with the pub­li­ca­tion of her best­selling mem­oir in 1996.

The final sec­tion, deal­ing with O’faolain’s death from can­cer, is al­most un­bear­able in its treat­ment of her frank, un­sen­ti­men­tal at­ti­tude to death. “I don’t want more time. As soon as I heard I was go­ing to die, the good­ness went from life,” she tells Fin­u­cane.

Di­rec­tor Pa­trick Far­relly hired cin­e­matog­ra­pher Kate Mccul­lough to spread her sig­na­ture shades about the frame, and the picture ends up with a very dis­tinc­tive, ap­pro­pri­ately som­bre look. But Nuala: A Life and Death is, ul­ti­mately, a cel­e­bra­tory work. Even when de­scrib­ing O’faolain’sex­cesses, friends and fam­ily find it im­pos­si­ble not to smile tol­er­antly. Not to be missed.

Nuala O’faolain sign­ing copies of her mem­oir, Are You Some­body?, in 1996

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