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INNOCENCE

Review by Chastity Campbell

Stars: Julia Blake, Charles Tingwell, Kristine Van Pellicom, Kenny Aernouts
Director: Paul Cox
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Studio: Columbia/Tri-Star
Features: See Review
Length: 96 Minutes
Release Date: December 10, 2002

“My God, love at her age…how could she!”

Film ***

Take a moment and step back in time to the place where you found your first true love.  Now think about that wonderful emotional roller coaster you were on for however long it lasted.  What if you could experience that all over again?  By popping in this DVD and taking the time to experience Innocence, you’ll be doing just that!

Director Paul Cox somehow managed to capture the basic principles of first love in this 96 minute film, and weave around that a story of emotional highs and lows in the lives of some very special people.  

Julia Blake (Hotel De Love, Lonely Hearts) plays the almost 70 year old Claire who is in a stable and comfortable, yet loveless marriage.  She has resigned herself to living out the rest of her life preening joy from her son and her garden.   Charles Tingwell (The Castle) plays Andreas, the man whom Claire loved over 50 years ago. 

Andreas is a widower, and the only light in his life is his 30ish year old daughter.  He finds out that Claire, his first true love, lives near by, and writes her a letter asking her to meet him for lunch so they can talk over old times.  Claire grudgingly agrees, and when she steps off the train and they lock eyes for the first time in fifty years, you are immediately struck by the love these two individuals once shared.

How is that possible, you ask?  Well, it’s achieved through the director’s use of an effect called a flashback.  I have seen many movies where a person will fall into a memory and you will get to see a perspective of them at a younger age or a moment in their life that is pivotal to the story.  However, the use of actors Kristine Van Pellicom and Kenny Aernouts who portray the younger versions of Claire and Andreas in the memory scenes simply took my breath away.  There is no dialogue in their scenes but faded colors, and hauntingly beautiful piano music help to set things up in a way that allows you to almost feel the love they once had for each other. 

Claire and Andreas set out on a journey that will run the gambit of emotions.   They slip back into each others lives as if a section of time were removed and there was no gap between them.  Unfortunately there is one tiny little problem:  Claire’s husband John finds out about his elderly wife’s affair and doesn’t handle it too well.  See, old John boy had an affair 20 years ago, but in his mind that was okay because he was only doing it for the pleasure principle…there was no love involved.  Claire, on the other hand, is a woman and his wife.  She should remain dutiful and vigilant only to him…well, in his mind anyway!  Come on, John, you sleep with another woman twenty years ago, and you don’t lay a finger on your wife since she caught you…of course she’s gonna be hitting the geriatric hot spots for a little action, no matter how wrinkled it might be! 

Innocence took my breath away in more ways than one, and I truly do believe this movie can teach us all a little about life, love, and what happiness really is.   The movie ends on a sad note, but the things you will take away from it will more than make up for the ending.

Video ***

The video quality for this DVD was absolutely beautiful.   While it didn’t hold the flawless features of some other modern day films it did deliver on the quality scale.  The 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format was enhanced by all of the outdoor scenes as well as the director’s off the shoulder style camera shots.  Some of the graininess in the memory scenes did overpower the picture at times, but not enough to be annoying.  There is a fine line between effect and annoyance, one which Director Paul Cox did a good job of walking. 

Audio ***

The audio on this DVD was presented in a 5.1 Dolby Digital format.  The mix was very nice and helped deliver a realistic feel to the movie.   The blending of background noise with dialogue was balanced very nicely and the soundtrack was beautifully done.  Paul Grabowsky’s haunting piano music in the scenes where there was no dialogue gave a good deal of color and depth to the memory sequences. 

Features *

With newer movies you expect at least a few features regarding the movie itself.  However, this DVD only bestows upon us three movie trailers, which are nice but I wanted more. 

There is a trailer for Innocence itself as well as ones for The End of The Affair and Mad Love.  All three trailers were nicely done but I would have liked some director commentary to go along with such a wonderfully done movie.

Summary:

Leave behind the wisdom that comes with age, strip off the layers that have covered you through your life and enjoy this DVD, it will help you reclaim a little bit of your own Innocence.