O’faolain documentary charts a life well-lived
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