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|Index||61 reviews in total|
I was going into this film expecting not to like it. The only reason I watched it was because I'm a big fan of Sarah Polley. I wouldn't say it's the best film and wouldn't make my top ten, but it was enjoyable. Polley seems to be doing a lot of "dark" films lately. I think she wants to get away from her "Road to Avonlea" image. Anyway, I think this is one of her better films, esp. when compared to The Life Before This and The Sweet Hereafter. I give it a 7/10.
Audrey Wells has crafted a tremendous film in Guinevere. She seems to show a talent not only for writing, but for visual direction and camerawork. The acting is solid all around. Stephen Rea is very strong, and Sarah Polley turns in another great performance. A very good film all around.
Is this what a college education in America has become? 20 years old and college educated and heading to Harvard law, and no one shows her any respect? No one values her or her opinions? She is left to the lecherous machinations of someone old enough to be her father? Sarah Polley (Dawn of the Dead) is cute. of course some older man is going to hit on her and maybe fulfill his life's dream. heck, I was leaching after her the entire movie. Stephen Rea swings, hits and scores! He shows her respect for her opinion. Pulease! She is a college graduate. How did she get through? I was really disappointed in this film. I thought it had potential and evidently someone else thought it did too, or they wouldn't have given it all those awards.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Guinevere opens with lovely opening credits showing various body part
photos. It soon unveils its plot detail of a nearly 30-year age
difference between lovers Connie (Rea) and Harper (Polley). The film
conveys a quiet suspense, at least until the final act. Will this
particular romance break Connie's sad, Rod Stewart-like dating pattern?
Good performances by all, especially the women. No one does tortured indie girl on the inside/ethereal WASP on the outside better than Polley. Jean Smart, as others here have mentioned, is a scene stealer when she gives Connie a piece of her prickly mind. Gina Gershon and Sandra Oh are on too briefly.
Despite these strengths, I had this nagging feeling I was watching something disingenuous. Someone who looks like Harper never got hit on in college, if ever? Was she that wrapped up in herself so as not to observe others? In a scene where Harper is grabbing coffees from a café counter, a young male employee and an older male customer are checking her out, and she knows it. Nothing about her looks different, except for her more frequent grin and a bright blue tank top. I'm assuming that her new confidence is radiating and that's what's catching guys' eyes, but come on.
Big spoiler: Near the end, alcoholism takes its toll on Connie. So, how to prepare for his death? Gather the ex-girlfriends for a pre-memorial, of course! At least he didn't racially discriminate when choosing lovers; it was just the pesky age thing for him. Soon after, he is given an eye roller of a group photo of the exes, and before he dies Harper describes the afterlife (purgatory?) to him -- complete with visuals that rival a cosmetics ad.
A much better story about a photographer in an odd relationship is Proof, starring Hugo Weaving.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is actually very deep compared with a lot of Hollywood
stories presented to us over the years and the plot is not as uncommon
as it might seem on first look. Although the writer and director is a
female, this is a story from a neutral perspective and both men and
women can find themselves in it. You can identify with one of the
characters and understand the other one.
The first time I saw it wasn't from the beginning and it caught my eye in a weird way. I underestimated it when I first saw it but something pulled me to watch it again. I've seen it few times since and I think to really understand it you have to see it more than ones. Before you start calling me names, like dumb and stuff for not getting it right away, I should mention that my profession is psychologist and actually I'm in Mensa. Not that it matters when we discuss taste for movies, but when it comes to analyzing the characters I am more than educated to give my saying. Being amateur scriptwriter is helping me see the story from a different perspective. But enough in my defense, the point is to actually give you a friendly advice if you hated the movie the first time: See it again.
What I look for in a movie is a realistic character with flaws and virtues. Good and bad sides. Actually, in a way, the performance of the leading actors was borderline brilliant and I'm not sure that they even realize it. Harper Sloane is a naive (but this movie is not) girl with low self-esteem not the center of attention she would like to be. So she goes on the other side. The alternative side where she's denying the need for attention on the outside but accumulating it inside. A very common story in real life. She meets the disgustingly ugly character Connie (sorry Stephen :) ) who is giving her the one thing she needs the most. In fact she's identifying herself with him. And thus feels very close to him, he is the only one that gets her or the only one who seemingly cares to understand her. A potential soul mate. Sure, you can see him as a dirty old man if you like, and call him the abuser of a naive young body but think again. Cause you can call her the abuser also, she's getting what she wants from him maybe more than he does. She tells him that she plans to move out (not right away but has plans to do so) and what does he do. Gets insanely drunk and ends up in the hospital. He actually loves her. Perhaps not exactly Harper, but what she represents. And he is actually if need be, ready to put everything on the line for that. What he loves is presented to us by the mother Deborah, another complex character that looks predictable on the first look. Also this is confirmed by the other girls that Connie "loved" in same way. Sweet naive losers with desperate need for attention, and even more, help in the forming themselves into bearable creatures as they mature. Bearable for them not for the others. They are all unhappy and depressed. Looking for someone to save them from these feelings. They are all special in some way; Connie brings them out of their cocoons they might have never left if it wasn't for him, and makes them special.
This is a story of life and death (the nature itself), metaphorically speaking, cause throughout the movie we are constantly waiting for the separation of Harper and Connie. The end points it out very explicitly. Probably for those who failed to understand it during the course of the action. About the archetypes, what can I say, perfectly painted in the modern environment. The old man, the naive girl, the mother I could go on for hours but that would probably bore the hell out of the ones who care enough to read what I have to say about this piece of work.
I had a feeling when I finished watching it that it can be done much better. Sure, the movie could have been directed better, superstar cast might have done it differently, more appealing, but than it would lose the imperfection. This way, it's like that old book you found with ripped pages, very unappealing, and read about the secrets in it. Like a diamond found in the garbage. It can be private this way, just for those who spend the time to really grasp it. If it would be a blockbuster, it wouldn't be as precious as it is this way.
Story has been done a thousand times on the Lifetime Channel alone. Script
has absolutely nothing new to say on the subject.
Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk and talk some more - and then finally - finally - the movie ends.
The cast is fine but you can only do so much when you're assigned bland dialogue.
While Sarah Polley is a fine actress and does the best she can in this role - Here's a tip for budding filmmmakers - if you're casting your character to be upper-crust/upper income, it's distracting that you ask the actress to not smile or to hold her hand in front of her face because her teeth are not perfect - as her character's should be. Oh the other hand, it's probably the most interesting thing about this film - how Sarah's going to try and hid her teeth in a particular scene.
Although the concept of this film is wonderful, especially for photographers, the story line doesn't hold together. By the end of the movie you can't create empathy for the two main characters and you just want them to kill each other and get it over with. If you're a photographer and want a film that touches on the relationships between a photographer and a model, check out The Governess instead.
After reading various enthusiastic reviews of Guinevere, I emerged from the
cinema wondering if these critics and I had seen the same film. Are we
expected to take the story or any of these characters seriously? Is it
possible that any appealing young woman intelligent enough to earn a BA
could be deceived by this crassly predatory con man? Stephen Rea plays an
even less attractive version of the walking Irish cliche he portrayed in
"Angie" - dark, rumpled good looks, smooth charm, gift of the gab, etc.
However, in Guinevere his character has the extra ethnic disadvantage of
roaring alcoholism and the tiresome habit of spouting pseudo-Marxist
diatribes against the upper classes.
Admittedly, there is no accounting for taste, especially in sexual matters. Yet you hope that even someone as totally gullible and inexperienced as Harper Sloane (even her name is a crass cliche) might be offput by the explicit warnings from the earlier "Guinevere" played by Ileana Douglas....especially when her prophecies come true and Connie sends Harper out to earn the household income in a burger bar, while he stays at home, presumably in an artistic trance or an alcoholic stupor.
It is difficult to see what artistic tuition or inspiration Connie provides his "Guineveres" that they could not obtain more easily at the public library or evening classes. Sloan does not even take a photograph throughout her relationship with Connie, so it is difficult to see how her later career as a successful photographer owes anything to his mentorship. The one piece of career guidance he is seen to offer her is unbelievable. At a hospital, he leaves her alone in a room with one of his friends, who is even less attractive and more alcoholic than himself and is strapped down to a bed undergoing drastic detox treatment. He urges Sloane to document his incoherent pal's agony in photographs. Sloane does not get as far as taking pictures, because the drunk urinates all over her. Connie berates her for not taking photographs, declaring "This is hard....this is work!!" Well, no it isn't Connie; it is vile, degrading and humiliating and only a pathetic old Marxist lush like you (or a lousy screenwriter) could think otherwise.
Sloane's mum asks Connie what he has against women his own age. The answer is obvious, though not spoken in the film - any woman his own age would see through him in a maximum of three seconds. Also if she was sufficiently deranged to share a home with him, she would insist he do some honest work. Curiously, her mum looks more attractive and vibrantly sexual than the wan and compliant Sloane.
When Sloane first tries to leave, Connie says that both he and Sloane will know when it is the right time for her to leave. Eventually even Sloane's immature brain clicks into gear. When Connie is lying desperately ill in a crummy motel room and sends her across the road for a bottle of liquor, she disappears to get a life - and presumably a boyfriend who is not old enough to be her father.
With so many talented performers and technicians on show here, it is a great shame that they were not provided with a better screenplay. There may be good reasons for a young woman to associate with an older man, but this film provides only an unsavory and compelling argument for sticking to your own generation for sexual and intellectual companionship.
Aside from the obvious qualities that make this an enjoyable picture
(Outstanding performances by all and a solid screenplay), it is perhaps
Guinevere's subtle qualities that set it apart from the standard,
long-winded, character development movie. The cinematography is outstanding
(and rightfully so as it is a film about photography), the casting superb,
and it is quite apparent that this film was under the supervision of a
skilled and consistent director. The characters are believable and natural
really bring this film to life.
However, you must know what you are getting into. Although it is not especially long, it feels like it is. You should expect a movie which seems like it could end at several points, but then continues for another 45 minutes. Guinevere moves more like a good book than a good piece of cinema. But if you are looking for an intelligent, enjoyable film which does not attempt to do anything beyond tell a good story and create interesting believable characters, Guinevere is right on the mark.
A strange little piece of work if there ever was one, this moody picture misses the mark. What originally may have been a huge boost in the career of Canadian prodigy Sarah Polley turns into a tedious venture into the fringes of Lolita-esque film sleaze. In fact, there is very little to root for here - no single character escapes with any real redeemable qualities, leaving some figuring that these people all deserve what they get. And watch out for Stephen Rea's impersonation of Mickey Rourke - I've never seen anyone mumble through their lines the way Mr. Rea did since, well, just about anything Rourke showed up in. Polley however, I am sure will end up on her feet as usual - she quite nearly pulls this mediocre pic out of the doldrums by herself. If anything, see it for her.
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