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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Innocence (2000)

Andreas: You haven't changed.
Claire: Of course I've changed.
Andreas: Of course you have.

- Charles Tingwell, Julia Blake

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: January 05, 2003

Stars: Julia Blake, Charles Tingwell, Terry Norris
Other Stars: Robert Menzies, Marta Dusseldorp
Director: Paul Cox

MPAA Rating: R for sexuality/nudity
Run Time: 01h:35m:27s
Release Date: December 10, 2002
UPC: 043396094123
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- CCB- D

DVD Review

The notion of sexually active senior citizens can be faintly embarrassing to us younger folk—I mean, does anybody really care to consider whether or not Grandma and Grandpa are still having sex? But the disdain of the youngsters, who foolishly think they have cornered the market on love, is no reason why the longings of the heart of the senior set should be any less profound than they are for the rest of us. So conceptually, the premise of Innocence brings with it a fair amount of promise. It's not followed through on, however, principally because the characterizations are shallow, and the people at the center of the story frequently remain opaque.

Seemingly out of the blue, Andreas, close to seventy and a widower for thirty years, contacts his first great love, Claire, whom he hasn't seen or heard from in decades. She agrees to meet him at one of their old rendezvous spots, and despite being married, a mother and a grandmother, she and Andreas reignite their old flame—their successful efforts at recapturing an old love comprise the bulk of the movie. We also see younger versions of Claire and Andreas, the misty water-colored memories of the way they were, and we learn that these two have been reminiscing about one another, privately, for years. It's a major flaw of the film, though, that these younger incarnations don't even get to speak—it keeps us from knowing just what it was about this relationship from so long ago that gives it the power to resonate through half a century.

And some plot problems and murky backstory issues hobble much of the narrative. Why, after all these years, does Andreas contact Claire? What happened between the two of them all those years ago? Have they each secretly been harboring a torch for the other, waiting for the phone to ring or a magic letter from the postman? We don't need to be spoonfed all the story elements, but many of the events here defy credulity.

Even worse, some of the dialogue is just downright brutal, dime store philosophizing and bad poetry—Claire gets most of these, forced to say lines like "Too much love is as bad as no love at all," or "To love is to be aware of eternity." Maybe there's truth in these, but they sound not like the wisdom arrived at after years of experience, but rather the platitudes you'll find in the latest, hottest self-help book. If it's Dr. Phil you want, you know where to find him.

There are some strengths to the movie, however; surprisingly, they come not from Claire's relationship with Andreas, but from her crumbling marriage to John, who has stood stoutly by her side for years and years. Terry Norris plays Claire's husband, a man so deeply repressed and out of touch with his own emotions that, when his wife confesses to him that she's been unfaithful, he laughs, refusing to take her seriously. He's not a likable fellow and obviously an inattentive husband, but he's the most fully drawn character on screen. Charles Tingwell as Andreas is affable and charming, but not much else; and as Claire, Julia Burke is all right, but the character is close to insufferable, the batty old aunt you see every couple of years who wants to know, really, how you are, and now could you get her another glass of sherry?

It's a thematically strong piece—the ruefulness of love in the face of death, the ongoing pull of the past in the present—but it doesn't work well at all as a story. It also has, incidentally and unintentionally, the depiction of a truly nightmarish dinner party, with the host telling unfunny dirty jokes and laughing at them more loudly than anyone, and the hostess entertaining her guests by playing her accordion. Check, please.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: There's a significant amount of debris evident on the print, but far more problematic is the color balance. In interior scenes especially, flesh tones look way too orange, and the production design doesn't flatter the actors particularly, either, as all too often they blend into the background.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.0
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The dialogue is generally clear enough on the English-language 5.0 track, but a couple of exterior shoots bring with them a significant amount of distortion, with the actors nearly drowned out by the ambient noise. Interiors fare far better, though the few restaurant scenes are a little overly heavy on atmospheric sound.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring The End of the Affair, Mad Love
Packaging: AGI Media Packaging
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Ample chaptering and a trio of trailers comprise the whole package of extras. Also, my inner copy editor is deeply offended by the brutally split infinitive on the cover of the DVD case: "Vow to never, never forget." Get me rewrite.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

Innocence deserves credit for the candor and generosity with which it treats its subject matter, but an A for effort doesn't make it an entertaining movie. No matter what their age, onscreen characters deserve better, fuller treatment than the people in this story.

 


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