Like Keira Knightley before her, Saoirse Ronan appears to have been typecast. While Knightley shone in period pieces, a vision in lavish costumes, Ronan is but a couple of centuries ahead of her. A reason for this might be her face. Saoirse Ronan has sad eyes, eyes that tell you a thousand tales by just staring at you. Her face projects weary innocence and unexpressed dreams. Maybe that’s why she keeps appearing in films about early America and Britain: she’s the personification of those countries during those periods of time. Where everything seemed possible if we could but put the past behind us.
In Little Women, she’s as good as always. There’s a moment in which she delivers a heartfelt protestation on the expectations of women, while mourning her own loneliness, that is deeply genuine and so sad.
The cumulative effect of the Harry Potter saga is akin to watching Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, or the collected works of Kubrick and Scorsese. Haunting and impossible to shake off, it is one of the highlights not only of this year, but of my film watching career. While no one picture is entirely flawless, as a whole they comprise an extraordinary feat of storytelling, and one that deserves a place in my list of most admired movies I’ve ever seen.
I am now rather proud of having arrived to this series when I did, for I’m certain my response to the films, had I watched them in the year long spans in which they were originally released, wouldn’t have been as immediate. So while I considered each picture on its individual merits, and graded accordingly, the fact that I watched them consecutively in the span of 5 days made it difficult for my emotional investment to be split into episodes.
For example, because the movies follow such a clear and natural progression, I was tearing up at the demise of Dobby in the eighth installment since I’d just learn his story a mere twelve hours ago, on installment two. Whereas had I seen this upon original release, my reaction might have been similar but my involvement wouldn’t have, my investment having been split into chunks throughout the years. What I discovered with Harry Potter was a tremendous sense of urgency, in which I was twisted up in the story complications in a way seldom experienced before, if ever.
So now that it’s all over, what’s next? I embarked on this journey out of loneliness, wishing to fill my free time with a pop culture product that’s been friends to millions of people throughout the globe. I got an emotional and religious workout instead, my mind jubilant with everything it was processing. I also got something else.
A reminder to be brave. That even if the present hurt doesn’t go away, ultimately, perhaps not even in this life but the next, I’ve already achieved the victory I so long for.