Nola and the Clones

Graham Jones (2016)

Last Featured: Aug. 8, 2016

Image Credits: Byrnalan Motel Entertainment

It’s movies like Nola and the Clones that remind us that film doesn’t have to just be an escape. The realism that Irish director Graham Jones employs here allows us to return to our own world transformed.

When the Lumiere Brothers screened the first moving picture in 1896, legend has it the audience took the train on the screen to be real—and ducked. Since then, we’ve grappled with what it means for a film to be realistic. Should it be indistinguishable from real life? Or should it use the devices of cinema to get at something even deeper?

Nola and the Clones, from Irish director Graham Jones, goes for the latter. Nola, a young woman living on the streets of Dublin, seems to know where she stands. The men she meets in coffee shops and clubs could be identical. They proposition her, and though she complies, it’s not without first telling them about who she is. 

Between these scenes, Nola wanders through shopping malls alone, trying on makeup and refreshing her hair in the aisle of the pharmacy. There is no dialogue here—only quiet music, and the reminder that Nola is entirely on her own. As we watch, the difference between the alternating scenes of conversation and solitude becomes overwhelming. 

It’s movies like this that remind us that film doesn’t have to just be an escape—when we return to our own world after the credits roll, we return transformed.