Must-See Movie Review: 'Far and Away' (1992)

There are love stories, and then there are love stories. What makes a good love story is subjective and most times it has a very strict formula. Boy meets girl, girl is with another guy, the girl is too gutless to say what she wants, as a triangle usually follows.

Another scenario is the boy and girl’s love suffers from a class divide and they are unable to overcome it due to their fear of what others might say or think. “Far and Away” explores these themes, and it does so in a revitalized fashion. Ron Howard’s lovingly crafted 1992 epic is not your typical movie or love story, and that is because it’s better.

“Far and Away” tells the story of Irish immigrants Shannon (Nicole Kidman) and Joseph (Tom Cruise), as they attempt to build a new life in frontier America. Through a series of events, Shannon and Joseph decide to platonically and antagonistically set sail together, both suffering the other in an attempt to fulfill their respective dreams. Their goals are the same.

The way they go about it becomes a bone of contention. Shannon, the stuffy rich girl, is stunned by life as an immigrant. For Joseph, the change is not all that shocking. He has lived similarly in their native land, and for him, things can only get better. What they both share is a strong ambition and enduring spirit that is forced to flourish under the terrible conditions that surround them.

Unlike most love stories, there is no honeymoon period, or idyllic circumstances surrounding the pair’s escalating feelings for one another. It is forged in the horrors of life’s cruelest, and most unforgiving times. This is a love that is built to last. It is not the starry-eyed dream connection of young, untouched souls.

What bolsters this particular romance tremendously is that each character is likable, independently of the other. Therefore, it is easy to understand their respective connection. As both encourage the other in the face of adversity, each character’s lively spark works to inspire the other, even in their worst moments. Ultimately, the amount of selflessness and devotion they show one another gives way to friendship, a key foundation for lasting romance.

There are so many great moments encompassed in this movie. There are funny and romantic times camouflaged throughout the bleakness. The score, conducted by the legendary John Williams, cements the epic fashion of the film. It is soaring and uplifting, effectively evoking the resilient spirit of its characters.

Ron Howard’s direction keeps the film moving at a sharp pace that makes the movie breeze by while savoring the crucial moments. Shot in 70mm, the cinematography is greatly rewarded with a strikingly lush appearance.

Kidman and Cruise have never been better, both giving top tier performances. They share a uniquely intense and compelling; screen chemistry. It is sexy, calm, flirtatious, and filled with a trust that most actors find hard to display in front of the camera; especially if they are in an off-screen relationship.

Cruise and Kidman share a scene in "Far and Away" that is so "un-glamorous" in its poignancy that it makes for one of the most romantic, ever captured in a movie, and it’s because of their on-screen connection

“Far and Away” is a stellar film. It is one of those movies that just catching a glimpse of it can mean sitting in front of the screen until the final credits roll. Having watched this movie many times throughout the years, it has withstood the test of time and multiple viewings. It can be said that the quality of this film is as enduring as the spirits it depicts. Rating: 10/10

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