Group responses to Innocence (a technical hitch occurred – obtained the DVD from Greece and there was fault on the disc – the last 10 minutes of the film were not viewed). I related from memory (with some inaccuracies) the end verbally.
The film group viewed the film on Video in March 2008 at a time when I did not blog or feel necessary to document our deliberations. However ST took general notes of the conversation: Wise. Utterly beautiful. Very moving, real. Thoughtful, thought-provoking. About generations. Why not on TV? Issue not resolved by death. Brilliant photography. Moral, ethical dilemma. Brilliant music. Unique but generalised situation. Dreadful husband. But I also remember the dissenting voice of D.B. (not quoted in the above) saying that the main protagonist was too glamorous and that the ending was a copout. Three of the old group were present this year.
This year present were present : AB, CH, EM, JG, MA, ST, RR, T
The most diverse and conflicting responses to a film in our group. It showed how differently films are perceived and how these different views inform each other during an exchange.
The Title: was puzzling to all except to one woman who remembered that there was a ‘definition’ of it. Andreas tells his daughter that she lost her innocence when she had her ear pierced. Would this refer also to Claire’s lost innocence in her youth love affair?
The Story: differing views. Not believable because of stereotypical characters. A story about sex relationship rather than love. Shows the complexity of real lives, of older people. Did not like the ending. Alternative could have been Claire and Andreas go away together, Claire leaves the two men and live her independent life. Gaps in the story: lack of sex for years in the John and Claire relationship. The roles of John’s affair in the couple’s relationship ? of Claire’s heart condition?. Too much going on in this film. General feeling that the story was overloaded. The dialogue was rather heavy.
The Men: again here different views about the two men characters: the two looked familiar. John’s part as the old-fashioned husband the easier one to play, John perceived as obnoxious: any man who says “what are you doing with my wife’ is out-of-order, also a very good portrayal of this sort of man who does not know to express feelings, the two men perceived as insensitive, Andreas perceived as sentimental, as the initiator of the reunion, as unresponsive to Claire’s needs when she needed him ( generally this scene was not clearly understood by any of us ), sympathetic to Andreas, he had a mature love for her, more selfless, but what does “I love you selflessly and justly” means? justly? . Was he going to hide his terminal cancer from her and his concern about having a bag – what would a colostomy bag do to their sex lives… this is not selfless. Talk about Andreas decision to refuse treatment. Talk about bowel cancer. Andreas lines were more like statements about life than felt dialogue. Claire’s dialogue even more ponderous – pontificating about life.
Parent and child relationships: One person felt that the children were out of their depth but general agreement that they were understanding of their parent. In particular the relationship between Andreas and her daughter had the feeling of a caring friendship. He confides in her and tell her that for Claire it is more difficult than for him. They share the thought that once passion is gone life becomes dull. But it is important to live in the present. Somebody noted that Andreas may well have brought up his daughter since his wife died very young.
Claire: unconvincing, bad acting, good acting – the expression of emotion seem genuine, when Andreas asked her to sleep the night with him she accepted, she was in control, she keeps saying we are grown up now, I did not feel she had a relationship with either of the men, too glamorous, too young and beautiful to represent people like us who in spite of our wrinkles still experience strong sexual feelings. Something that was eating Claire was the fact that Andreas never fought for her. Yet this was brushed over at the end of the film. The scene of the meal with the couple and the accordion music and dance commented on at length: the woman was much younger than the man but they seem to have a warm relationship. Mention of Claire’s joke about flower and vase apparently a common joke in Hungary. Why the abrupt cut after this sequence? What were Claire’s eye problems ?
Cinematography: remark about the different film stock between the now and the flashbacks, when the colours more faded. It seemed that the frequent flashbacks were not appreciated by all and there was some questions about whether they were her memories or his or both.’ I got sick of the same train rushing by and the trees’. The cemetery and coffin scene raised lots of questions about the identity of the naked woman seen during the removal of bones. An attempt at discussing time and ageing: time goes faster, there is more to remember in the past, mortality is looming, mention of Segal multiple identities, does the past intrude in the present? yes, no.
Colour palette and music not examined.
Films mentioned: Cloud 9, Whales of August, Brief Encounters, Le Week End (nobody liked the film – stupid and boring), Gloria (Why do lots of films about older women have a name for title? Philomena, Gloria, Iris? see under resources)