AUTUMN HEARTS - A NEW BEGINNING: DVD
The past has cast a long shadow over the present, reaching to the picturesque Quebec farm where the now married Melanie (Susan Sarandon) lives less than happily with her husband (Christopher Plummer). When in 1985 Melanie reads about the release from the Soviet gulags of fellow Holocaust survivor Jakob (Max Von Sydow), she writes and invites him to her home. Jacob unexpectedly brings Christopher (Gabriel Byrne), whose love for Melanie has never diminished since their confinement in an internment camp as youngsters. Old feelings and long suppressed memories are stirred up and revealed at a climactic, life changing meal.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A moody but satisfying drama, Autumn Hearts is a story of bad memories haunting survivors of a WWII French transit camp for Jews, where young American Melanie (Alexandre Nachi) and young Irish boy (Regan Jewitt) met and shared the trauma of prison, with the older Jacob (Max von Sydow), forging a powerful bond. Torn apart and scattered to different lives, they are reunited in 1985 when Melanie (Susan Sarandon) discovers that Jacob has just been released from a Soviet work camp. She makes contact and invites him to the Quebec farm where she now lives with David (Christopher Plummer), her husband of many years.
Jacob brings with him a surprise guest: Christopher (Gabriel Byrne), who we discover, had wanted to marry Melanie, but was too late. Other revelations come forth during the afternoon and evening, creating an emotional equation that includes several multipliers. One of these is that both Jacob and Melanie have suffered some mental disturbances, the former through terrible treatment at the hands of his captors, the latter through internalised and obsessive memories of the camp.
The brittle nature of Melanie's marriage is partly explained by David's outburst about her harbouring 6 million Jews in the attic, whose fates so consume her that the problems of her own family seem irrelevant. It's a snappy remark but it conveys much, and earns a knowing reply from Jacob, who notes that it's collateral damage caused to the families of the prisoners from the camps.
It is Jacob, too, who admonishes himself for telling the young Melanie all those years ago to remember - and to record the camp's activities in a log book for future reference - instead of telling her "to live".
The impeccable cast help make this sombre work engaging and its Quebec setting is sufficiently different to give the subject matter a sense of freshness.
Published April 23, 2009
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AUTUMN HEARTS - A NEW BEGINNING: DVD (PG)
Aka Emotional Arithmetic
CAST: Susan Sarandon, Christopher Plummer, Max von Sydow, Gabriel Byrne, Roy Dupuis, Regan Jewitt, Alexandre Nachi
PRODUCER: Suzanne Girard, Anna Stratton
DIRECTOR: Paolo Barzman
SCRIPT: Jefferson Lewis (novel Emotional Arithmetic by Matt Cohen)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Luc Montpellier
EDITOR: Arthur Tarnowski
MUSIC: Normand Corbeil
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jean-Francois Campeau
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD
SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of; photo gallery
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Eagle
DVD RELEASE: April 22, 2009