The thought provoking Irish film, Nola and the Clones, written and directed by Graham Jones, begs an interesting question. Just who are the Clones?
Well, it may just be a matter of your point of view. Soon after the beginning of the 2016 film, Nola and the Clones, you begin to get the drift that main character, Nola, a unique and nonconformist sort, played by Caoimhe Cassidy, may be homeless. In the first half, Graham Jones, the Irish writer and director of this film, takes you along this path. A sympathetic viewer will likely begin to root for and worry about Nola. However, about halfway through the film, as it winds its way like an Irish country road, a feeling begins to creep in that, yes, there may be homelessness here, but in a more metaphorical sense. Nola finds herself a person without a place in this world. Or, more accurately, Nola is having trouble finding herself, period. Coming to grips with a crossroads at a very young age, Nola is recalcitrant as to how and when to plunge forward in life as a young woman.
I noticed that some of the young men beseeching and besieging Nola looked similar. At one point, I even questioned if it was the same guy. To Nola, all these young men were alike. But the reverse was true, also. I could not help but notice that Nola was not all that different than the other young women around her. A little push in their direction and she would have been indistinguishable. Here, it seems, fitting in would not be an issue, but wanting to fit in is a major problem. Some fish just need to swim against the stream.
Nola struggles to come to grips with being a young woman in the world. In a long, soul-baring monologue in the middle of the film she tells one of the indistinguishable young men that he and other young men, and, implicitly, society and the world at large, do not know what they are doing to young women. In essence, Nola is transitioning into young womanhood with all the ease of a injured mule being led up the side of a mountain. She just flat does not want to go.
It is interesting to note that the young men of Dublin, these Clones, are anything but aggressive with their ostensibly streetwise fancy. And the Dublin streets do not look too mean. I like to see films with interesting locales. This Dublin looks much like the one I visited ten years ago. What I saw was civilized and survivable. I don’t think I would advise Nola to undertake this venture in too many large cities in the United States. The point is, these young guys in Dublin could have been way creepier and far more dangerous, but they instead had a fairly respectful reserve. Good on you, Ireland.
The musical score to this film is quite nice. At one critical point in the film, we are left to observe through a window, our thoughts and speculations unhindered by dialogue, free to ride along with the interesting score, and giving us a chance to catch-up mentally with just what this film is up to. The closing credits are another interesting thing in the movie. Check out the names of all the characters. If you do not know who the clones are in this film, then I hate to break it to you …
Nola and the Clones is the latest effort from Irish director and writer, Graham Jones. He calls his new school cinema, Nuascannán, and he argues that the film industry is being dragged, kicking and screaming, not unlike Nola, into a new age of low-budget, digital production. Indeed, the introduction to this film states that it is of the micro-budget variety. Television has exploited the void left behind by big-budget studio movies. Yes, that void where the exploding robot stands now used to be filled with story, intelligence and quality. Films can exploit this void, too. Being smaller means being nimbler, and the micro-budget allows for chance. A chance to succeed, a chance to fail, a chance to reach someone, and a chance to soar. Most independent film fans are there for a reason. It is a matter of taste and I have heard it said that taste is the ne plus ultra of intelligence.
Suffice it to say, Graham Jones is on to something with his Nuascannán movement, the risk/reward equation may be in his favor, and if necessity is the mother of invention, then the future may be now.