After more than forty years apart, Andreas and Claire embark on an affair as reckless and intense as when they were young lovers. Widowed musician Andreas decides to get back in touch with ... See full summary »
After more than forty years apart, Andreas and Claire embark on an affair as reckless and intense as when they were young lovers. Widowed musician Andreas decides to get back in touch with his one great love, Claire, who is still married to her first husband, John. Andreas and Claire find that the connection they shared when they were young is still there and they soon become involved in a rekindled love affair. However, this time around, there are more complications, including the possibilities of ill health and death, as well as the impact their relationship might have on John. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
" They've (the audience) been desensitized -- they've been Pulp Fiction-ized. I don't condemn that, but we cannot live without love, we cannot live like this. At the end of this film, I wanted to say that love is the only thing that matters, and those who think that is naïve are wrong." -- Paul Cox.
In Innocence, a sweet film by Australian director, Paul Cox, a couple approaching seventy rekindle a love affair that started almost fifty years ago. Andreas (Charles "Bud" Tingwell), a widowed organist and music teacher, decides to write to Claire (Julia Blake), the woman he was in love with in Belgium in his youth. Claire has been putting up with a joyless marriage for the last twenty years with her husband John (Terry Norris) and agrees to meet Andreas to catch up on things. I guess you know where this is going. That's right, the two pick up right where they left off. John is hurt by his wife's infidelity and comes off as obtuse, even though it is evident that Claire has never taken any responsibility for the quality of their relationship.
It is nice to see that at least one director realizes that people over the age of thirty can actually experience physical sensation; however, will someone please tell Mr. Cox that there is more to growing old than talking about memories and anticipating death. Mr. Cox is an honest filmmaker who has his heart in the right place and no doubt wishes to restore some humanity to the cinema. I applaud him for that. Unfortunately, for me, this work comes across as strained and somewhat precious. It plays like a seventy-something TV movie special with all the pretensions of a serious art film. Cox uses dream sequences, flashbacks, jump cuts, and poetic music as if he was operating from a manual about how to make a serious art film.
Most of the lovemaking is suggested and is always in good taste but even this is a problem. If your point is that older people are still capable of romantic love, then don't be afraid to show it. The theme of the renewal of love after many years can be moving and poetic as in the magnificent novel of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, "Love in the Time of Cholera". While the novel had fully-realized characters, here I found the lovers so ordinary and uninteresting that I had difficulty making any emotional connection with them. Tingwell speaks his lines in a flat monotone and does not exude much charisma.
I think the biggest problem I had was the film's overreaching for effect. Repetitious flashbacks of the young lovers and ersatz profundity add up for me to an unsatisfying experience. That the actors perform as well as they do under the circumstances is a tribute to their skill and professionalism. Over and over, the characters are asked to recite endless cliches that sound like they come from "Touched by an Angel". For example: "Each phase of life has its own kind of love", and "If God were called Beauty or Love, I would believe in Him", and "What really matters is love, everything else is rubbish", and "She wants to be needed, that's the way women are", and "Love becomes more real the closer it comes to death", and "I'm suffering but you don't care".
All that is missing is Ryan O' Neal saying that love means never having to say you're too old. At the end Claire says to Andreas, "Let's go somewhere where we can shed a few tears together". On this last point, I would join them. For a film that is full of sincerity but becomes lost in its own unctuous self-importance, perhaps a few tears might be in order.
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