Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

My Bonnie (Hannah Quinn 2015)

Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

My Bonnie (Hannah Quinn 2015)

Article excerpt

My Bonnie is the directorial debut of Hannah Quinn, a member of the talented Quinn family which includes her film-making father Bob and brother Robert, and who has worked for over 20 years as an assistant director on numerous film productions. The story was adapted from the Tiny Play Sanctuary written by Liz Quinn and first performed by Fishamble Theatre Company in 2012. As a reminder of Bob Quinn's films, it is made entirely by a west of Ireland crew and set very deliberately in Conamara.

Shot on location by gifted Irish cinematographer Tim Fleming (Once, As if I'm not there, Gold, the film opens on a peaceful blue seascape. A pan to the left reveals the slim figure of a woman sitting on a rock facing the rising sun. In the next shot, Sadie (Liz Quinn) is seen in mid-shot, humming the old ballad "My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean". The discontinuity of the shots, the contrast between the first open, unobtrusive composition and the following close-shot raises the question of the right distance from which to look. On the last note the woman rattles some pebbles in her hands, making a sound like applause. Her imagined audience--we--are thus made complicit in Sadie's triumph, as she gets excited, acknowledging our demand for an encore.

A wide shot immediately reminds us that Sadie is perfectly alone on the beach and giving free rein to her imagination. The spectator is consequently made intrusive in the same way as a second character, who appears at the extreme left-hand corner of the long shot, just as she twirls and collapses ungracefully into the shallow water. The man has witnessed her moment of embarrassment. She is outraged and storms away.

At this stage the spectator may believe that the meeting between the two characters is fortuitous, but the connection between them increasingly becomes transparent. The eye-level shot on the couple climbing the rocks, Sadie trying to get away and Dan (Tom Sullivan) attempting to reach her, epitomizes their conflicting relationship. As we are gradually made aware of their familiarity, the couple appears to be trapped on a rock that resembles a whale at high tide. Without any possible escape, they have to confront the distance that has grown between them. …

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