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Australia/Belgium 2000
Directed by
Paul Cox
94 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars


Paul Cox has managed to make a career out of tackling projects that no-one else would go near. Whilst this is commendable, his pretence to art is often greater than his gift for it and this is particularly so in this film, which purports to tell the story of an elderly couple (Bud Tingwell and Julia Blake) who rekindle a 40-year-old romance, much to the displeasure of the woman's husband (Terry Norris).

There is a line in Peter Bogdanovich's Texasville (1990), his rather ordinary sequel to The Last Picture Show (1971) in which the Jeff Bridges's character says he is "too old for love". Bridges' character is in his mid-40s, but here Cox has his 70 year-olds carrying on like a pair of teenagers. As they have not lived their adult lives in a closed order this purported innocence is hard to take at face value. Cox shows their youthful romance in flashback and does this very effectively but fails to give their coming-together some 40 years later the ring of truth. The result is a kind of highbrow Barbara Cartland (not that we've ever read Ms. Cartland but we know what she signifies). For example, Tingwell's character, a former musician (of course), maintains of his former wife at her graveside (where she's being disinterred!) that he can "feel her in my flesh" and at one stage the aged lovers sit on a riverbank and Blake's Claire spouts French poetry flawlessly. As they say... puhhhlease!

Blake, who played a comparable character in Carl Schultz's comparable Travelling North (1987), manages for the most part to carry her weight but both Norris and Tingwell struggle with the demands of their much younger director's script. As ever with Cox, this is an interesting subject but the script could have done with greater maturation.




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