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|Index||61 reviews in total|
I can't say exactly what, but something is missing in this
movie. Poor Connie. I think he gets less out of the
relationships than the Guineveres. Maybe I like things "tied
up" too much, but I wish we'd seen a little of Harper's work so
we could judge just how well Connie taught her. A scene of her
in a gallery or studio somewhere surrounded by her work as she
answers a ringing telephone (presumably with Billie on the other
end) would have been satisfying--no dialog necessary, just a
look of sadness on her face. Whatever else, this movie sure
spurred some dialog between my 25-year-old daughter and me.
Interesting that (along with another reviewer) I saw the connection between the Stephen Rea character, Connie, in this movie and Herman Wouk's Noel Airman in the 50's novel "Marjorie Morningstar" and talked about that as we walked home. And as big a bitch as Harper's mother was, she had it right as she saw through Connie. Beautifully acted by all principals!
Good movie. Sarah Polley is a natural actor. Her flare for comedy is almost contageous. Her dramatic skills will have you reaching for a hankey. Uma Thurman had better watch her back, Sarah Polley has what it takes to cover the emotional scale...See this movie, you'll see what I mean.
this movie is a little disturbing at times, but, the characters are
interesting and, although they are unlikable at times there is some
exceptional acting going on here.
steven rea is fantastic as this aging, washed up photographer who has seen fame and fortune pass him by and is faced with an ego that remains famished for attention. at times in this movie you can't help but feel sorry for him, the countless humiliations he goes through, but, he is such a raging drunk, so totally cruel and irrational, sympathy at times is difficult.
sarah polley is nothing less than etherially beautiful, although her girlishness is a bit overwrought at times. she giggles uncontrollably for the first third of the movie as if she's never held a conversation before (which, i guess, perhaps she hasn't) but then, she really matures before you and comes into her own. she is as yet an untapped talent despite her previous performance in "go".
jean smart is, i think, the biggest surprise of this movie. being so used to seeing her in silly roles as a brainless southern lady with the depth of say, vanna white, it was entirely refreshing to take her in as a real bitch-on-wheels. her sadistic cruelty directed at connie for seducing her daughter briefly gives her a quality of the righteous mother protecting her child. but, any hint of a mothers altruism is destroyed when she turns her rage onto the one she is seemingly there to defend. this particular scene is one of the most powerful of the film.
all in all, some excellent performances and a good story. if you liked "high art" you'll probably like this too.
Sarah Polley more than holds her own as the star of this interesting and quirky film. Gina Gershon seems much more natural and likeable than usual here, and Stephen Rea is a bit understated in his performance. Jean Smart has a wonderful turn during a monologue to her daughter (Polley) and Connie (Rea). Intelligently written, stylishly directed.
Sarah Polley fans, especially ones going all the way back to "Ramona",
are generally big-time "Guinevere" (1999) fans simply because it is the
film in which she peaked physically. And Director Audrey Wells picked
up on this during casting, seeing in Polley (at that time of her life)
someone physically perfect to play her heroine Harper Sloane. Wells
needed a young woman who simply glowed in front of the camera, whose
face looked better "without" make-up, and who projected both innocence
and restlessness. With Polley she also got a bonus, one of the most
talented actresses of her generation.
In this sense Wells resembles Alfred Hitchcock, a director with an uncanny ability to identify actresses at the one moment of their lives when they are physically perfect for a particular role. Sylvia Sidney in "Sabotage", Nova Pilbeam in "Young and Innocent", and Joan Fontaine in "Rebecca" come to mind.
Wells, who also wrote ''The Truth About Cats and Dogs'', captures that moment in some young women's lives (yes, the film could be considered a feminist statement) when they are able to break free of expectations and programming. The Harper Sloane character seems so authentic and the portrayal so lacking in glib cynicism that it most likely has a lot of autobiographical elements.
Harper is tracking along toward Harvard Law School when she meets Cornelius Fitzpatrick (Stephen Rea), a middle-aged Irish artist who has been hired to photograph her sister's wedding. His well-practiced seduction technique and irreverent world-view causes a major attitude adjustment and she abandons her career track to become his protégé and lover.
The story is told from Harper's point of view and the viewer soon learns along with her that this is not the traditional "Pygmalion" scenario. While not exactly a rogue and a roué, "Connie" is a compulsive Henry Higgins who has repeatedly played this game with repressed young women. He goes into these relationships with a five-year time limit. Consistent with the POV factor,
Harper's story is told with intelligence and compassion, with a lot of emphasis on the fragility of a first love and the pain of a trust betrayed. The film's feminist slant is revealed not so much by what is explicitly shown but by its failure to bring any dimensionality to Connie's character. No clues are provided to explain his aversion to a long-term commitment, Harper discovers that his promises are empty ones but she never learns the roots of his insecurities.
Although Polley's best scenes are those with Carrie Preston, who plays her best friend and confidante; the most entertaining scenes are those with her mother (Jean Smart), an unstated version of Susan's mother on "Seinfeld". The dysfunctional nature of Harper's family and her mother's unfulfilled life are slowly and somewhat comically revealed, but the bottom line is that her mother is sincerely trying to shield her daughter from mistakes.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
Writer/director Audrey Wells, who would go on to make 2003's "Under the Tuscan Sun" as well as the recent "Shall We Dance", directed Sarah Polley in 1999's "Guinevere". Wells' forte seems to be characters in search of romance who find it in unexpected places. It was the 'ugly' girl in "Truth About Cats & Dogs", Italy in "Tuscan Sun", and the older man in this film. That older man is played with wild abandon by Stephen Rea, often inappropriately stealing the show. Ignoring Jean Smart's histrionic heavy scene later in the film, and the control Rea's Connie has over Polley's Harper, this is Sarah Polley's film. What make this film work is its sensitivity and subtly, especially toward Harper's youth, naivete, and uncertainty in love and life. It's a sweet film about self-discovery at any age, and although it gets a bit moody toward the end, it works well as a date movie.
After seeing the mixed reviews of Guinevere on IMDb, just as British tv was
about to show it, I thought I'd give it a go. I liked it, although I can
see why some reviewers felt it was disturbing, offensive, and pretentious.
Like so many of Stephen Rea's performances, he gives Connie a nervous edge
which makes you believe in him and go some way to understanding why he had
gone through life with this succession of young girls he simply refers to as
'Guivevere'. The focus of the film is squarely on Sarah Polley, playing
nervous Harper Sloane, nearly 21 and a square peg in the smooth running of
her law-obsessed family.
This is a film about love and art, and understanding, and of a growth into something else (Harper at the end of the film is so unlike she was at the start that Connie must have been for the good, or at least that is the message that is being given out). The film reminded me of Jane Campion's 'The Piano' in a lot of ways, and was so obviously the work of a woman (writer and director).
Rea and Polley are superb. The real killer for me was the fantasy sequence at the end which was bizarre and exceptionally moving. 'Guivevere' is a hidden gem, and long may little gems be made in the movie world.
Another example of how insightful writing and excellent acting gets you nowhere in today's slam-bang movie market. Audrey Wells creates one of the finest films to date written and directed by a woman. Are offers flying in to make another? Doubt it very much. She came up with a treasure based on character and an original storyline. But there wasn't a gun in sight, people were not terrorizing each other, we had no impossible stunts to marvel at and it wasn't until the final scene we finally got our special effects fix. But the sum total was much more unique than any number of Armageddons/Independence Days & co. So who noticed? Not the Academy Awards, where Wells did not even receive a Best Original Screenplay nomination. Sarah Polley gives one of the great ingenue performances ever. Stephen Rea is wonderful in the male lead. All overlooked. Get this one for your DVD library folks. It can be savoured again and again. But don't delay, it will soon be out of print, no doubt.
Thoughtfully written, well acted, provocatively true to life... this is a
movie for the intelligent, mature audience, not a movie to appeal to the
lowest common denominator. Those who are too lazy to think (or just unable
to!) won't "get it" and will condemn it because it did not hand them an
answer on a platter. Those who thought about the story rather than merely
reacting and who dug into the emotions found level after level of story and
enjoyed the irony of the fact that even the most intelligent among us
frequently do something we may later view as stupid. Even so, those
"stupid" things help shape who we are, and may be as important to the
formation of who we are as the "correct" choices we also
Worth the ticket and worth buying it on DVD when available.
Technically, Ms. Wells has a superb film here. The cinematography is innovative and germane to the story. The actors all give enjoyable and appropriate performances. The storyline, however, leaves a bit to be desired. I imagine that feminist critics would have a hey-day with this one. I don't buy it. I don't believe the relationships in the film are genuine and honest - it just doesn't work. Ms. Wells explained after the show that she works from a theme and creates her movies that way, and from that perspective, the movie works. If one only looks at the movie for the theme and disregards most other concerns, s/he will love this film. I was disappointed.
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