Written by / 12/25/2011 / No comments / , , , , , ,

GUINEVERE

title: GUINEVERE
year: 1999
cast: Sarah Polley, Stephen Rae, Jean Smart
rating: ***1/2

At last, a LOLITA for modern audiences and not treated like your typical male fantasy. Stephen Rae, possessing a sly charm tucked within a tragic countenance, is perfect in the role as a struggling artist/photographer named Connie who takes in young female “students,” referring to them as Guinevere. Sarah Polley is Harper, a melancholy rich girl who lacks enthusiasm for life and especially art, until meeting the free-spirited photographer at her sister’s wedding. She needs guidance from an experienced mentor and most importantly, a place to crash, where she gets lessons in love and possibly becoming a future artist, contrary to what she considers a boring, mathematical lineage. Her uptight suburban family’s dissociated from the ineffectually hip city folk: especially the mother played by Jean Smart who – in one scene as she tears Connie apart in a viciously condescending monotone – practically steals the show. And although it’s not always apparent what Connie has over Harper and the string of former students, including Gina Gershon and Sandra Oh, and his health decline is a bit rushed towards the end, Rae plays the character so genuinely the flaws don’t matter: it’s a beautifully filmed character-study about life, love, art, and understanding where each one belongs.
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