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I first saw this Canadian film when it was released in 1987. I was a
college undergraduate, and the film has never left my memory since then.
The movie is original, startling, lovely, hilarious, and
It's a shame that it hasn't been made available on DVD, but I read on the director's official Web site (patriciarozema.com) that Miramax Films is going to re-release the movie. That's exciting! Perhaps they'll also release it on DVD. (Miramax, if you're reading this -- put it out on DVD!)
If you ever have a chance to see this film, see it.
The wonder of this film, like one of the paintings it features, can't be described in words. It is pure magic in the most abstract form! One can't help but adore Polly's originality (Sheila McCarthy). This is a fantastically crafted and acted film. It will trigger your imagination and place a smile on your face. After the film is over, you won't be able to stop dreaming. I can't watch it enough! It is very sad that it is no longer in print (at least last I checked) and I am very lucky to have purchased it in the Laser Disc format when I did. I have been a fan of this film since I was 20 and am still a fan 14 years
Sheila McCarthy shines in this exploration of the imagination, the
artist and the self.
It is one of my top ten films of all time because of its originality and ,of course, McCarthy's offbeat and touching performance. She creates something truly original that has not been matched in a female comedic performance since.
Direction is crisp, unexpected and magical. One can see why it was given a standing ovation at Cannes.
It is one of the few films that can me on a pure emotional level..appealing to the misunderstood individual.
Anyone who has felt like they don't fit in will love this movie. Be sure to watch the closing credits to the end.
Now On DVD with Rozema's commentary.
One of my top ten favorite films of all time, this is beautifully put
together- I can't fault the film in any area, other than its not been
released on DVD yet. This is easily the best film to come out of Canada,
and Patricia Rozema will have a hard time bettering it. The whole movie
plays like an ethereal dream with occasional lapses into consciousness.
There are some very funny pieces, and some touching moments too. If you
ever rent or buy a film because of a review on here, let it be this one,
totally brilliant, and one of the only films ever to be given a standing
ovation by the critics in Cannes when it was first shown.
This canadian masterpiece staring Sheila McCarthy is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. McCarthy's character will touch young starving artists in many ways. The film which is very low key has some amazing scenes that keep your eyes on the screen and your mouth wide open. I feel this movie is very misunderstood by some critics. It cannot be taken too literally. the "daydream sequences" are just that, daydreams. They are there to show you polly's (McCarthy) true inner structure. If you can find this movie, and you like artsy movies that make you think, buy it. Don't bother renting it, because you will just end up buying it anyway.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An intelligent and unusual "art house"-type movie about a modest and
eccentric dreamer (McCarthy). This low-key comedy melodrama isn't
pretentious, though; quite to the contrary - it makes fun of
pretentious bull***t-talk that takes place in the pop-art scene. The
comments two of these "art experts" make while evaluating a series of
paintings is very funny and effective; stuff like "his boyish bravado
has a certain charm", "he is somewhat incapacitated by his emotions",
"New York is wild for his oblique pragmatism", "the static structure is
offset by his whimsical sociological references", "there is a
hopefulness in his contextural destruction", or "the lack of resolution
of his themes almost adds to a vaguely literal internal transformation
of the subject" (my favourite). And while the two are spouting off this
verbal malarkey, McCarthy eavesdrops on their conversation and naively
nods. McCarthy is perfectly cast, totally convincing, and easily the
best in an obscure cast. Two plot twists at the end. An interesting
If you're interested in reading my extensive satire of modern art, "Picasso", contact me by e-mail.
This is one of the two simple films about art that made deep impact on
me even after all these years since their releases.
Patricia Rozema's "I've Heard the Mermaids Singing" deals with the subjectivity of art which is always relevant in any context. The master's childish art is readily being celebrated and consumed like fast food while the amateur's masterpiece is undiscovered but remain sacred. It reminds us to keep true art away from the corruption of consumerism.
Victor Erice's "The Quince Tree Sun" is probably the most boring film you'll ever watch, but just as the artist finds it impossible to capture the shifting sunlight, we realize it is no longer important to finish a piece of painting, if at all it is possible, as art is in the process not the result. We consciously experience the passing of time while watching the film! Brilliant.
Both films allow art to be taken to a different level, beyond the reaches of commercialism and physicality.
This is a wonderful film. I first saw it back in the eighties and it is
still fresh in the mind. The title is a quote from T S Eliot and refers
to epiphany. There seem to be a lot of spiritual references. Did
everyone else not notice the significance in the older woman being
named Gabrielle and the younger Mary? Gabrielle could not create what
the earthier Mary could but was her muse. I am not sure of this but
Polly in the Canadian accent sounds like Paul-y. The disseminator of
the faith? Any comments from anyone? Yes it was small budget but still
beautiful. Polly was hilarious. I loved Mary (not that she would be
likely to give me the time of day). Check out a book that the actress,
Ann-Marie MacDonald, wrote: Fall on Your Knees.
Anybody know where I can get the DVD in London?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of my favorite movies of all time! Probably number two on my mental list. The cast is superb. I can't imagine anyone else filling the parts more perfectly. The imagery and the very way the movie is presented is a work of art. It's like art imitating life imitating art. There is also musical treats, for one, Delibes "The Flower Duet" from his opera "Lakme,"! From my Taoist perspective, this movie reflects the wisdom of letting life happen instead of trying to aggressively make it happen. When Polly tried to be something she was not meant to be, the results were disastrous. When she finally realized her inner nature was not a weakness, but her strength, she triumphed! Mary Joseph was the catalyst that made Polly finally begin to realize she was not some freak by defending the photo on the floor, and clarifying her own relationship with Gabrielle. It was especially interesting when Polly and Gabrielle were chatting about relationships and society during one of Polly's dreams. The Freudian quote reflects a wisdom that has been lost in time, but still very valid and true. This movie also mirrors the disconnect and love/hate relationships between artists and art critics. I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone under 30 unless you are the "old soul" type or somewhat intellectual. Otherwise, you won't get it, and there's no special effects, graphic violence or steamy sex. The insight and wisdom required to understand a movie such as this comes mostly with age. I have also known people that have acquired such insight via LSD, as I probably did, but I DO NOT RECOMMEND that route! The reasons why are because it's 40 years too late, Timothy Leary is dead, and without such a guide as he, the side effects from an illegally or poorly manufactured drug would be dangerous and deadly!
This is an intellectually ambitious film about meta-art: What is the
relation between an art object and intense aesthetic experience? What
is the value of the art object if it is devoid of the cultural "frame"?
How are certain people legitimized to confer value upon art objects?
The film deals with big questions. Even so. Its main character is someone who is so endearing that you care very much about what happens next. It counts as an offbeat "warm 'n' fuzzy" flick. The humor is both deft and sweet.
As someone who teaches at a college, I think this would be a very *teachable* film. Use it to raise and illustrate these questions in an aesthetics class, or in a class discussing the creation/ propagation of artistic canons.
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