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SUBSTANCE OF FIRE

SYNOPSIS:
Family drama about a generation clash between the headstrong leader of an independent publishing house and his three grown children. Holocaust survivor, Isaac Geldhart (Ron Rifkin) is a venomously witty New York literary publisher, who would rather risk bankruptcy by printing volumes of Nazi medical experiments than anything remotely commercial. Conflict arises when his partner son wants Geldhart to publish a potential best-selling novel written by his gay lover, prompting a parting of the ways, that also alienates his daughter. A pivotal event makes Geldhart realise that his familyís love is the one thing he cannot afford to lose.

"Substance of Fire is a touching human drama about an obsessive man and his relationships with his family. Itís a film that explores the human condition - state of mind, acceptance of reality and coping with loss. Jon Robin Baitzís screenplay is terrific and draws multi-faceted characters, which spring to life. The performances are superb. Ron Rifkin gives a heartbreaking performance as Isaac Geldhard: here is a man who is obsessed with the past and the guilt he carries. He canít move on and come to terms with accepting reality. How painfully easy it is to take out lifeís frustrations on the ones near and dear! Sarah Jessica Parker gives one of her best performances to date; Timothy Hutton is sensitive and understated. Substance of Fire richly explores emotions that are very real, that, although not particularly comfortable, allow us to connect and make us feel vulnerable. Beyond the sadness and tragic undertow lies a beauty of spirit, that makes this handsomely made film a memorable and moving one."
Louise Keller

"As Louise says, Rifkinís performance is heartbreaking, and the central plank in this filmís appeal. It is not an easy film (to market) because for all its qualities, it asks the audience to empathise with a sad situation; however, it pays off by delivering an intelligent film filled with nuance and emotion, successfully illuminating the specific conflicts of the characters, while also exploring the universal human condition. The production design is notable for its ability to enhance the mood where itís needed, adding another layer to the actorsí superb performances. It is character driven cinema - not surprisingly, it is adapted from a play."
Andrew L. Urban

"A small film, one that is very much character-based, Substance of Fire has astonishing power, due to a very literate and intelligent script, and a remarkable performance by Ron Rifkin as an autocrat using his past experiences as an excuse to cut himself off from his children, all superlatively played by Sarah Jessica Parker,Tony Goldwyn and Timothy Hutton. Based on the stage play, this is an intimate and provocative drama, a well-acted piece beautifully directed, with a haunting quality that resonates after its conclusion. Though not an easy film, one that deals with tough issues relating to family, Substance of Fire is deserving of an audience. Intelligent, literate and compelling dramas such as this, come along all too rarely."
Paul Fischer

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SUBSTANCE OF FIRE (M)
(US)

CAST: Ron Rifkin, Tony Goldwyn, Sarah Jessica Parker, Timothy Hutton

DIRECTOR: Daniel Sullivan

PRODUCER: Jon Robin Baitz, Ron Kastner

SCRIPT: Jon Robin Baitz (adapted from his play)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Yeoman

EDITOR: Pamela Martin

MUSIC: Joseph Vitarelli

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jon Lee Beatty

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: REP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 11, 1997 (Melb: Sept 18)







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