Innocence - screener

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Film by Paul Cox

Year: 2000, 91 mins
Code: PCO-Innocence
ISBN: 978-1-921882-78-4

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Paul Cox’s highly successful film both in Australia and overseas, it had the critics raving in America.

After more than forty years apart, Andreas (Bud Tingwell) and Claire (Julia Blake) embark on an affair as reckless and intense as when they were young lovers. Widowed musician Andreas decides to get back in touch with his one great love, Claire, who is still married to her first husband, John (Terry Norris). Andreas and Claire find that the connection they shared when they were young is still there and they soon become involved in a rekindled love affair. However, this time around, there are more complications, including the possibilities of ill health and death, as well as the impact their relationship might have on John.

Director: Paul Cox
Producer: Mark Patterson, Paul Cox
Writer: Paul Cox
: Tony Clark

Cast: Julia Blake, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, Terry Norris

Born in Holland and settled in Melbourne since the mid-‘60s, Paul Cox is an auteur of international acclaim, having received numerous international awards.  He is one of the most prolific makers of films in Australia, with numerous features, shorts and documentaries to his name. He is the recipient of many special tributes and retrospectives at film festivals across the world, including a major retrospective at the Lincoln Centre in New York in 1992.

His films of the early and mid ‘80s – Lonely Hearts (1981), Man of Flowers (1983), and My First Wife (1984) – were highly acclaimed both locally and internationally. 
Man of Flowers premiered in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984, and went on to win Best Film at the 1984 Valladolid Film Festival as well as Best Foreign Film at the 1991 Warsaw Film Festival.
Cactus premiered in Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in 1986 and Vincent won the Jury Prize at the 1988 Istanbul International Filmdays.
A Woman's Tale won the Grand Prix at the 1992 International Flanders Film Festival in Ghent and Exile screened in competition at the 1994 Berlin International Film Festival.

More recently, Cox's highly acclaimed feature Innocence (2000) won massive audience and critical acclaim, including Best Film and the People's Choice Award at the 2000 Montreal World Film Festival; and 5 Australian IF awards including Best Film, Independent Filmmaker of the Year for Paul Cox, and Best Actress for Julia Blake.

Cox’s career continues currently, with features such as Human Touch (2004) and Salvation (2008).

Winner of 7 Awards including:
Best Film and Best Female Actress at IF Awards
Best Film and People’s Choice Award at Montreal World Film Festival

Here is the most passionate and tender love story in many years, so touching because it is not about a story, not about stars, not about a plot, not about sex, not about nudity, but about love itself. True, timeless, undefeated love.

Paul Cox's "Innocence" is like a great lifting up of the heart. It is all the more affirming because it is not told in grand phony gestures, but in the details of the daily lives of these two people. Life accumulates routines, obligations, habits and inhibitions over the years, and if they are going to face their feelings then they're going to have to break out of long, safe custom and risk everything.

"Innocence" has no villains. The treatment of John, Claire's husband, is instructive. He is not made into a monster who deserves to be dumped. He is simply a creature of long habit, a man who is waiting it out, who wears the blinders of routine, who expects his life will continue more or less in the same way until accident or illness brings it to a close. When Claire decides to tell him about Andreas ("I'm too old to lie"), his reaction is a study in complexities, and Cox knows human nature deeply enough to observe that in addition to feeling betrayed, disappointed and hurt, John also feels--well, although he doesn't acknowledge it, somehow grateful for the excitement. At last something unexpected has happened in the long slow march of his life.

The casting of Blake and Tingwell must have been a delicate matter. It is necessary for them to look their age (unlike aging Hollywood stars who seem stuck at 45 until they die). But they must not seem dry and brittle, as if left on the shelf too long. Both of them seem touchable, warm, healthy, alive to tenderness and humor. And there is a sweet macho stubbornness in Tingwell's Andreas, who refuses to accept the world's verdict that he must be over "that sort of thing" at "his age." He is not over it, because, as he writes her in the letter that brings them together, he always imagined them on a journey together, and if she is still alive then the possibility of that journey is alive. If 69 is a little late to continue what was started at 19--what is the alternative?

Many things happen in the movie that I have not hinted at. You must share their discoveries as they happen. By the end, if you are like me, you will feel that something transcendent has taken place. This is the kind of film that makes critics want to reach out and shake their readers. Andrew Sarris, for example, who usually maintains a certain practiced objectivity, writes: "The climax of the film is accompanied by a thrilling musical score that lifts the characters to a sublime metaphysical level such as is seldom attained in the cinema." Then he goes on to call "Innocence" a "film for the ages." You see what I mean.

For myself, "Innocence" is a song of joy and hope, and like its characters it is grown-up. Here is a movie that believes love leads to sex, made at a time when movies believe that sex leads to love. But sex is only mechanical unless each holds the other like priceless treasure, to be defended against all of the hazards of the world. This movie is so wise about love it makes us wonder what other love stories think they are about.

- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

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