If nothing else, you've got to admire Irish writer/producer Sean Walsh for daring to bring James Joyce's hugely dense epic Ulysses to the silver screen. Unfortunately the behemoth of a book proves just, well, too big. Set during one June day in 1904 and containing every single thought, fantasy and action of three Dubliners - stoic cuckold Leopold Bloom (Stephen Rea), his wanton wife Molly (Angeline Ball) and conflicted young poet Stephen Dedalus (Hugh O'Conor) - Bloom never escapes its literary origins, hamstrung by the very voices that give the novel its power.
Where the film does succeed is in its capturing of the bawdiness and banality of Joyce's novel, from Molly's orgasmic morning daydreams to Leopold worrying about his piles before he goes about his errands and later bumps into the drunken Dedalus. The performances are credible too, with a typically sympathetic turn from Stephen Rea while The Commitments' Angeline Ball displays both depth and an impressive heaving bosom.
"DENSE DIALOGUE DRAWN STRAIGHT FROM THE PAGE"
But while there's more cinematic tricks on show than in Joseph Strick's 1967 version, Walsh's film remains a mostly dull and uninventive affair. Workaday cinematography and sets devoid of atmosphere don't help, but it's the reliance on voiceovers that really starts to bore: Joyce's famous stream-of-consciousness is reduced to actors wandering about matching thoughtful looks to dense dialogue drawn straight from the page. It might have worked in Look Who's Talking, but it doesn't here. Only Joyce fanatics - and desperate Eng Lit teachers - will echo Molly's famous affirmation and say "Yes" to Bloom.