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cast: Barbara Jefford, Milo O'Shea, Maurice Roëves, T.P. McKenna, and Martin Dempsey

producer and director: Joseph Strick

120 minutes (15) 1967
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Arrow DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Barry Forshaw
Amazing to think that this brave (but doomed) filmic stab at the greatest novel of the 20th century was once the subject of feverish attempts at censorship (repeating, of course, the fulminations of the morally uptight when James Joyce's novel first appeared). Nowadays, the four-letter words and unblushing descriptions of sexual activity have only earned the DVD a harmless (15) certificate (perhaps because Strick was forced by the more straitened era in which the film was made to avoid showing any sexually explicit images - no doubt any fresh attempt at the novel would remedy that omission). But would it be a better film of Ulysses?
   It's doubtful - after all, of all un-filmable novels, James Joyce undoubtedly produced the prime contender (although his subsequent Finnegans Wake might vie for that title). And while Strick faithfully reproduces a not-very-eventful day in the life of a Jewish advertising canvasser in Dublin, 1904 (though the period here is uncertain), he only fitfully captures the mesmeric power of Joyce's astonishing use of language - and one section, the phantasmagoric Nighttown sequence (in which Bloom and his surrogate son Stephen Dedalus visit a brothel) is disastrously miscalculated. But there are good things here: notably, the playing. Maurice Roëves is a lacklustre Dedalus, but Milo O'Shea and Barbara Jefford give career-defining performances as Bloom and his sensuous, unfaithful wife Molly. In fact, Jefford's performance of the magnificent, erotic stream-of-consciousness soliloquy that ends both the novel and film is absolutely impeccable - and makes the film something more than a mere snapshot of a great novel.

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