The man in the tight white t-shirt sends a film critic reeling through life.
Sounds of a quarrel awaken Quirke, age 10. She goes downstairs to find her parents watching Marlon Brando brawling in A Streetcar Named Desire. The sight of the icon leaves Quirke gasping for breath and, ultimately, headed for a career as a film critic for several British publications and broadcast stations. Her vivid, singular pieces capture the perfection she sees on screen. James Deans’ hair suggests “a cartoon of dreams of a better world…” Al Pacino first uses his voice like an “oboe,” then later like “an electric guitar.” Bogart shows that “life can be like a movie you’d rather not be in.” Indeed, in the matter of life outside the cinema lies the rub for Quirke. No man she meets matches the aesthetic perfection she sees on the screen. Her consciousness forged by the movies, she trips over one relationship after another. There is the writer who wears clothes until they fall apart, who never brushes his teeth or finishes his magnum opus. There is the newspaper editor who drinks too much. And there is the actor whose family shows up nude at parties. Quirke relates all this in a sometimes loopy style. Of one boyfriend she writes, “I is saved. I wanted to be I, but Jim was I, I thought.” She stumbles through work, as well. When an editor hands her an interview with Jeff Bridges, she turns it into a shambles. Her fumbling ineptitude may amuse some (including agents who, she says, sense film potential in her misadventures). Others may wish there were some way she could get a life.
Aside from the trying details of Quirke’s personal life, her memoir offers fresh, sharp takes on the movies and their stars.