Reviews

Innocence

4

Watching a lusty pensioner snogging a lady of a certain age (who later enjoys a solitary fiddle on her sofa) could be enough to make some cinemagoers gag on their nachos. Then there's the sentimentality of the set-up, in which the same grey-haired couple meet in Oz 50 years after their passionate affair in Belgium came to an abrupt end, and discover they're the same cheeky, playful teenagers they've always been.

But banish the nightmare image of catching your granddad at it with a geriatric slapper - this is something else entirely. Australian writer/ director Paul Cox's understated weepy gradually eases into a disquieting, complex study of memory, love and obsession, as sprightly widower Andreas (Charles Tingwell) and the long-marriedClaire (Julia Blake) set out to discover if their passion is still as intense, or if they're exaggerating the importance of one joyful, uninhibited affair.

The story doesn't hang around answering obvious questions thrown up by the couple's predicament, such as why Andreas finished with Claire in the first place and how he knew where his ex-girlfriend lived after half a century apart. Instead, a series of eerie, dream-like images drift in front of the backdrop of sunny Adelaide, taking the film into altogether darker territory. Andreas, for instance, is forced to watch his wife's remains being exhumed, and suddenly pictures her in the coffin as a young girl. The theme of the head quietly wreaking havoc with the heart is probably at its most effective, though, in the fleeting Super 8-style flashbacks of the young lovers - grainy, dialogue-free sequences that capture the yearning and bliss that comes with recalling long-gone happiness.

Verdict:

An engaging love story of great compassion, warmth and intelligence gets an unsettling visual edge, granting its old-timers both depth and complexity.

Film Details

  • 12
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: March 1st 2002
  • Genre