Great films about great writers are few and far between, and any portrait of James Joyce as a young man inevitably has too much to live up to. Nevertheless, director Murphy and her co-writer Gerald Stembridge have a go, and at least they make a fist of it. Wisely, they focus on Nora Barnacle, the chambermaid Joyce became obsessed with, and who inspired his most vivid writing. On their first date he comes in her hand. 'It was sacred for me,' he tells her. 'Have you a handkerchief?' she wants to know. As Nora, Lynch is remarkable: thick lipped and long faced, she's a constant adventuress in love; bold, earthy and every inch her own woman. As Joyce, McGregor combines bookish absorbency with raffish self-conviction, but he doesn't spring to life in the same way. Their love is pornographic and spiritual, jealous and pure. Joyce discovers everything through Nora, and when the well is dry, he engineers his own betrayal for new material. Although it's an intelligent effort, it is an effort all the same.