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An elderly artist thinks he has become too stale and is past his prime. His friend (and agent) persuades him to go to an offshore island to try once more. On the island he re-discovers his muse in the form of a young girl. Written by
Steve Crook <email@example.com>
I caught this rather odd but interesting movie at 1 AM on TCM one night (I guess insomnia isn't always a bad thing). James Mason stars as famous, very jaded middle-aged painter who decides to get away from the frustrations of his public life by relocating to a rural Australian island. Unfortunately, once there he finds more frustrations with his eccentric and annoying neighbors, and bothersome former associates who show up unexpectedly. He also meets a young girl (Helen Mirren) who, uh, "re-inspires" him by agreeing to pose for him in the nude.
The tone of this movie is kind of strange, going from light-hearted comedy to sudden tragedy and back again. It was directed Michael Powell, after this once- respected director had pretty much torpedoed his own career with the movie "Peeping Tom", which was considered unforgivably sleazy in its era in Britain, but is regarded as somewhat of classic today. Mason (who also co-produced) plays a role similar to the one he played in Stanley Kubrick's notorious film version of "Lolita". He walks the same fine line between an erudite artist trying shake off the shackles of bourgeois morality and a mere pervert lusting after some nubile flesh. Nevertheless, this movie doesn't take the predictable May-December sex route. It may be a little "politically incorrect" by today's standards, but I actually found far less creepy than the hypocritical morality of America today (where the media goes into morally-outraged hysterics every time some celebrity nymphet appears in a racy photo or video clip, even as they show this same photo or clip over and over. . .).
For what it's worth, Helen Mirren was well over "the age of consent" in real-life here, and she has the same GREAT body that would become in fixture in British art films and theater over the next three or four decades (even if she doesn't quite demonstrate the acting chops that recently earned her academy award for playing Queen Elizabeth II). This movie has its problems, including its very uneven tone, but it's definitely worth watching.
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