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:: Guinevere

Guinevere, the latest film by Audrey Wells, writer and producer of “The Truth About Cats and Dogs” features an award winning cast including Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter, Go, Existenz ), Stephen Rea (The Crying Game, Michael Collins, Interview with a Vampire), Gina Gershon (The Insider, Showgirls, Face/Off) and Jean Smart (The Odd Couple 2, The Brady Bunch Movie, Mistress) and uses every inch of their emotional and physical presence to tell a love story with a difference.

From the very beginning, Guinevere sets itself an almost impossible task. The film opens with Harper (Sarah Polley), a naive and very inexperienced 20 year old, telling the audience that four years ago she met the worse man she has ever met and is every likely to meet, the much older and world weary Connie Fitzpatrick (Stephen Rea). The film then travels back in time four years to when they met, at Harper's sister's wedding. She, as the bridesmaid who doesn't like to be photographed, and he, as the wedding photographer. From there we are told of the story of the time they spend together. Her initial words, however, haunt the audience throughout the film and make it difficult, if not impossible, to like Connie and therefore empathise with Harper. It isn’t an easy task for any film, let alone a directorial debut

After the wedding, with some swift talking and well-rehearsed moves on Connie's behalf, the relationship between he and Harper quickly blossoms into anything but a professional one. No sooner does Harper give up everything she has ever known: her life, her family and her acceptance to Harvard Law School; to go and live with Connie at his studio to “study art” and “create”, she discovers that she is not the first girl to find herself in this seemingly unique position. To Harper's dismay, Connie has a serial predilection to being the mentor and lover of beautiful young women.

As Billie (Gina Gershon) puts it, Harper has become the latest student of the Connie Fitzpatrick School for Young Women. Harper, distraught, angry and humiliated, runs back to her life, as she knew it before Connie. But just as the audience breathes a sigh of relief, it becomes clear that life just isn’t ever that simple and the same applies to Harper.

As she returns home for her 21st birthday, Harper realises that although Connie deceived and humiliated her, he at least believed in her, which is more than she can say for her family. Not only does her father have a “thing” for her sister causing her mother to flirt with any male in a 12 mile radius, and that they all continually make a mockery out of Harper’s life, they are all lawyers and spend their time around the dinner table debating various legal points and just generally being mean to each other.

It is all Harper can do but to run back to Connie. When she does, he is waiting with open arms. Even with the parameters of their relationship seemingly laid out before us, the audience just can't quite forget that this all is not going to end well and Connie is the easy target. But his relationship with Harper is not the same as those that have gone before her. Despite how much we want to believe that Harper is just another one of his girls, she isn't. She is not only more independent than the others but she understood from very early on just what she had got herself into. Connie, who is older, broker and not as good looking as he used to be, is infinitely more vulnerable and, to his surprise, finds himself dependent on and in love with Harper.

From the moment this realisation hits, Connie knows that he has to end it. In the most heartbreaking scene of the film, where actions defy words and words don't even attempt to hide their true meaning, Connie lets Harper go.

Sarah Polley is faultless as Harper and provides the perfect contrast in every way to Stephen Rea' s Connie and all that he embodies. In spite of the cheesy and unnecessary wrap up at the end of the film, overall Guinevere succeeds in defying the audience expectation it has itself created and conveys a touching and intelligent love story.

Screening at the George Cinemas and Cinema Como