I'm sure that Innocence, the new film by Australian auteur Paul Cox, will enjoy a lot of good will from critics and audiences simply based on its subject matter alone. It deals with a kind of relationship that we never see portrayed in the movies - not May/December, but more of a December/December romance. Two former lovers, Andreas (Charles Tingwell) and Claire (Julia Blake), now in their 70s, reunite for an innocent meeting after 50 years of not seeing each other. As it turns out, the same romantic chemistry re-ignites between them and despite their own "we're not kids anymore" hesitation, they begin an affair. While Andreas has been a widower for some time, Claire is married, and so she has to deal with some prickly ramifications, even though her relationship with her husband is basically loveless. I hate to say it, but if you scratch away at the façade of good intentions proudly displayed by this movie, it's a mediocre effort that alternates between being simplistically misty-eyed and overly deliberate. There are flashbacks to the original affair between Andreas and Claire that play like a Hallmark card commercial - lots of joyful scenes on swing sets, and tearful goodbyes at train stations. Innocence has some deeply felt moments, but I felt it ignored the more troubling aspects of Andreas and Claire's relationship: Andreas seems to pursue her as a subconscious way of staving off the inevitability of death, and Claire embraces him more out of a rejection of her stilted marriage than out of true love. But this movie is much more interested in blissfully waxing poetic about love in the twilight years, wearing its self-righteous sensitivity on its sleeve. I left feeling like I was supposed to be smugly ennobled by the experience, but that's not why I go to the movies.
Published Sep 01, 2000