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INNOCENCE

SYNOPSIS:
Andreas (Bud Tingwell) and Claire (Julia Blake) were lovers in Belgium, soon after the Second World War. More than fifty years later, after the death of Andreas' wife, they meet again in present-day Adelaide. Although both are over 70, they fall in love all over again. Through their relationship they discover wisdom and the joy of life - despite the anger of Claire's husband (Terry Norris) and the inevitable shadows of sickness and death.

"Poignant, visceral and cinematic, Innocence is a gentle film that evokes memories of young love that have ripened into full bloom. Essentially two love stories merged into one, Paul Cox has taken the theme of rekindled passions in the autumn of life and explores its complexities, mysteries and realities. Beautiful to look at, images of today meld into those of yesterday; a moment in time rediscovered as simply as wiping a steamy bathroom mirror. We are captivated by evocative images of two lovers meeting, laughing and loving, with all the hopes and expectations of a glorious summer. From bumbling to practised, we readily accept the two love stories from different times as one. The young lovers are repeatedly shown meeting and greeting as a fast train rushes past. Time never stands still, it seems to moan. Their precious moments are but stolen ones. The story unfolds naturally; Cox's script thoughtful and perceptive, capturing multiple textures and colours. Love scenes between the older couple (rarely seen on screen) are handled with good taste and courage. Just as Cox revealed a naked 75 year old Sheila Florance in 1991's A Woman's Tale, here successfully portraying two lovers in their seventies is no mean feat. Innocence is about love – then and now, who we are and how we feel about ourselves. Julia Blake, wonderful as Claire, reveals the vulnerability, doubts and passion with an affecting honesty. Terry Norris as Claire's husband, is outstanding as a man blinkered by his complacency and locked in his own self-obsessed world. He takes his wife totally for granted and knows nothing about expressing his feeling. This is the character that affected me most; he's tragic, pathetic, funny and our hearts ache for him. A slight reservation in the casting of Charles 'Bud' Tingwell; I would have liked to see Norman Kaye in this role. Kaye broke our hearts in Lonely Hearts and could do so again. But it's good to see him and Cox regular Chris Haywood in cameo roles nonetheless. This is an essay about love, never sentimental but heartfelt and moving. It captures the peace and harmony of two souls who have a connection; no one said being grown up was easy. With its haunting recurring theme of eight simple notes, Innocence is a rich and evocative cinematic work, exuberant with inner complexities of life's adventures of the heart."
Louise Keller

"Paul Cox, who usually tackles less than predictable material, essays the challenge of a love story with senior citizens. As is his wont, Cox takes risks, but Innocence, while still not a mainstream, mulitplex film, is so endearing and accessible as to be brimming with so called ‘cross-over’ potential. There are no subplots and no red herrings as Cox steers the story of a rekindled love affair to its unexpected conclusion. Julia Blake is superb as the gently ageing but still sensuous Claire, as is Terry Norris as her long suffering, non-plussed but caring husband. Classic framing and orthodox choice of shots give the film a welcome simplicity, and the flashbacks to the young lovers take on a European mood … only because they were shot in Belgium (to satisfy some financing requirements). This results in a slight displacement or lack of clarity in terms of a sense of place, but this is compensated for by a subtle use of reflective surfaces throughout the film. There are reflections that often trigger memories in mirrors, in water, there are shots through glass windows and glass doors, train windows and in the final scene, a glimpse through the small mirror of a church organ. Filled with well observed, truthful scenes, Innocence has a sort of restrained exuberance that gives it wide appeal."
Andrew L. Urban

"Paul Cox's films tend to inspire passionate love or hatred - probably less because of their content than their chosen cultural style. All too self-consciously, Innocence sets out to be a quiet, sensitive art film. Moreover, as the dialogue frequently reminds us, it's a 'mature' film about 'mature' characters (in mind as well as body). In practice, this 'maturity' is inseparable from an aura of slightly faded middle-class gentility - classical music, dinner parties, walks in the park, cultivated generalisations about love, life, and death. Accompanying this is an equally faded kind of bohemian daring - as in the curious scenes where Andreas baits representatives of organised religion with his cheeky agnostic views. It's easy to make fun of Cox's old-fashioned humanism, clumsy storytelling and heavy-handed way with visual metaphors (if you're making a film about old age, make sure at some point to pan past autumn leaves). Yet the film does have the virtues of sincerity and disregard for fashion; at least Cox is trying to express emotions he genuinely feels. The actors, too, have their moments. If Tingwell is content to coast on his charm, Julia Blake manages to deliver Cox's often stilted phrases as if she meant them: it's convincing as a portrayal of how an educated woman of a certain generation might speak and feel. Whether you like the character is another question. Like the film overall, Claire comes across as painfully earnest and self-absorbed - as when she primly condescends to her husband, well played by Terry Norris, as if she somehow expected him to thank her for betraying him and thus reawakening him to life."
Jake Wilson

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

See our INTERVIEW with Charles 'Bud' Tingwell

See our FEATURE

TRAILER

INNOCENCE (M15+)
(Aus/Bel)

CAST: Julia Blake, Charles Tingwell, Terry Norris, Robert Menzies, Marta Dusseldorp, Chris Hayward, Norman Kaye, Joey Kennedy, Liz Windsor

DIRECTOR: Paul Cox

PRODUCER: Paul Cox, Mark Petterson

SCRIPT: Paul Cox

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tony Clark ACS

EDITOR: Simon Whittington

MUSIC: Paul Grabowsky

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tony Cronin

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sharmill Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 21, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: The AV Channel

VIDEO RELEASE: August 23, 2001







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