Irish Film Studies: Nora

This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This is my journal entry for Nora (week 8).


Nora, a 2000’s film by Pat Murphy, is related to an important figure in Irish history:  writer James Joyce. However, the film mainly focuses on his wife Nora Barnacle, what obviously explains the title. Just like our week on Hush-a-Bye-Baby, we were here interested in the portrayal of women in films. This one, however, is set much sooner, in the early 20th century. Pat Murphy’s film depicts Laura as a deeply interesting woman, free in spirits, an avant-gardiste feminist. During our class discussion, we’ve been asked if we thought Nora would have had any recognition if she wouldn’t have been the wife of James Joyce. Unfortunately, I don’t think so. Yes, she is presented to us as a beautiful, intelligent,  interesting woman, but, however, I believe these qualities were unfortunately not used at their full potential. She, yes, somehow could have been an inspiration to women of her generation and the ones to follow, but, as she didn’t accomplish anything concrete, well, she’s, unfortunately, the type that could have been forgotten soon.

What was very interesting about Nora’s character was to see how she lived with her sexuality and, for a woman of her time, seemed quite comfortable with it. You know, we always have this tendency to think that every woman who didn’t live the sexual revolution of the 60s had the tendency to be very shy and prude concerning this subject. Well, Nora proves the opposite! Of course, it remains a fiction film and not a documentary, but at least it gives us a good preview (especially for someone like me who didn’t know anything about Nora Barnacle).

The depiction of James Joyce in this film was an interesting one as the director chose mainly to focus on him as a man more than as an author. This was relevant as it allowed us to understand better his relation with Nora.

Nora is not a masterpiece, but certainly is an interesting film. Giving a place of choice to women in culture is always something I prioritize and movies like this help to contribute to this task.

Before leaving you, there’s one last thing I’ve got to say: I think Ewan McGregor has an adorable smile!!


Words: 367

Image sources

“Nora.”Movie Roulette, n.d,

“Ohh a game! a game!” Everyday Should Be a Holiday, Jan. 31, 2010,



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