WITH NETFLIX providing a welcome tonic to the “new normal” of life alongside Covid-19, movie fans could do worse than commit an evening to Far and Away.
Newly added to the streaming service, director Ron Howard’s sprawling Irish-American melodrama is the second of three films Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman made together.
It also happens to be the best worst Irish film ever made.
Far and Away is not without its charms though.
No expense was spared in bringing to life the story of Joseph Donnelly (Cruise), a lowly Irish peasant who runs away to America, with Shannon (Kidman) the wantaway daughter of a wealthy landowner, to take part in the Land Run of 1893 and fulfill his dream of owning his own patch of land.
It also boasts a cracking Enya theme song - Book of Days, unfairly nominated for Worst Original Song at the Razzies.
There's also the presence of a young(er) Brendan Gleeson in what was his first role after making the jump over to Hollywood.
Unfortunately, it also features two of the worst Irish accents ever committed to film.
That's right: even worse than Sean "Boyo" Connery's efforts in The Untouchables. Boyo.
Dialect coach Tim Monich made a career out of getting some of Hollywood’s biggest stars to speak in accents wholly removed from their own.
He helped Matt Damon speak as if he were South African and taught Brad Pitt to sound like he was born and raised in Tennessee.
However, when it came to imparting the secret to an authentic Irish accent on Far and Away’s two big stars, he didn't just fall short, he fell long.
In Kidman’s defence, she was never supposed to sound Irish.
As the daughter of a well-to-do landowner, Shannon Christie really should have spoken with an English accent – something that would have been the norm for a person of her standing at the time.
Unfortunately, it was decided that to have Kidman speak in an English accent would leave them confused. Instead, she was taught to speak in an educated Dublin accent. Or that was the idea.
The Australian native may have taken to American accents with ease, but her Irish effort ended up being more “Oirish” than Irish and would have been “Far and Away” the worst thing about the film had it not been for her co-star.
Tom Cruise in Far and Away is the benchmark by which all bad Irish accents are measured.
One day children in schools across Ireland will look upon his efforts with the same confused wonder as someone reading hieroglyphics on the side of a pyramid in Egypt for the first time. This is the unofficial eighth wonder of the world.
Cruise cruises from one dialect to the next in the space of a single scene, sounding like someone from Belfast one minute before switching over to Dubliner the next.
It’s maddening but also strangely watchable – at one point he even starts to sound like an actual pirate.
That’s the appeal of Far and Away in a nutshell: it’s a sprawling, modern epic, beautifully shot and boasting a brilliant supporting cast – the film marked the last by Irish acting legend Cyril Cusack.
No expense is spared either, with the film budgeted at a staggering $60 million back in 1992.
Silly voices aside, however, it's far from perfect.
The story is pure history-led hokum to rival James Cameron’s Titanic – there's even a snobbish Billy Zane-style love rival - while 1890s America is presented with a sheen that gives things the air of a fairytale.
All that and you have two A-list stars making the most unintentionally extraordinary noises ever put to screen.
But it’s a gloriously guilty pleasure.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. Probably not at the bits Howard, Cruise or Kidman intended, of course.
Whatever the case and whatever your preference, once Far and Away starts and Kidman and Cruise being talking you won’t be able to avert your eyes or your ears.