wri. dir. audrey wells
st. sarah polley, stephen rea
Blah. That's how this movie made me feel. This movie had me dreaming of lengthy plot descriptions that would take the place of hard fought opinion. I began to notice the small things, the little details that are supposed to compliment the big picture, not become the picture. The way Sarah Polley's nose caves in and catches her tears when she cries. The incredibly spacious apartments poor people seem able to afford in movies. The cliched notion that just being yourself is enough to be an artist. The sort of people who spout such things.
Guinevere deals with the relationship between a young girl and an older man, but in a nice way which emphasises those deep emotional connections over any type of dubious moral material. All sex is elided over, faded into the black, tastefully handled. That's part of the problem; the film sounds like it could be daring, but it reduces its topic to puppy-love mush. There's nothing impure, honest or fucked up about any of this. It's flawed and gritty by committee. Stephen Rea is your typical bohemian cliché who takes inexperienced girls from their affluent mothers and trains them until they're able to discuss Sartre in coffeehouses populated with actors who once appeared in Showgirls. They don't actually do anything, merely sit around and speak loudly about the phallocentric notions implicit in Huckleberry Finn. Sometimes they stand in front of empty canvases and have a little paint. A few of them carry cameras everywhere they go in case they ever feel like doing something constructive. In short, these people are clichés, and a few of them pick up drinking habits when they're feeling a little underappreciated.
The whole movie moved by very quickly, and before I knew it I was outside again, none the wiser. When I sat down to write a few notes for further use, nothing came to mind. A few weeks later, only two things had really stuck with me, so I'll deal with each of them briefly before signing off.
1. The Banal Art of Montage: No, not the Eisenstein model or any intellectual spin-off you care to name, but a filmmakers need to summarise a year or two of someone's life into a brief collection of scenes (couple walking in park, tickling each other playfully, reading books in odd places, being generally "wacky") scored by the twiddling of some pompous Yankee soft-rock band. I despise this device, and would prefer to see a relationship between two people develop with some semblance of reality before they break up with torturous slowness. In all honesty, I'd rather stay at home and watch the Carry On series in chronological order without a toilet break.
2. The Ending: The bad movies are usually the ones you forget the quickest (unless they're really bad) but final scenes seem to stay with you a little longer than everything else, if only because they're obviously the last thing you take in before leaving the cinema. The last scene of Guinevere is a laughably bad summary of everything that's gone before, and it nearly destroys the film. Instead of a touching moment between two people we're presented with a crappy "corridors of heaven" ramble around one man's memory while the various women in his life gyrate for his dead body and elevated mind. If that was what I saw when my ticket had been punched, I'd ask for a refund.
So if you want to see the same topic dealt with in an original way you'll have to go and see Holy Smoke, if it's still showing anywhere. It's not quite as neat and digestible as Guinevere, but it won't fly away quite as quickly as this cinematic wisp will.
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