Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Sex and old age are like religion and politics. You don't talk about them in polite society. Paul Cox does.

As you might expect, the lady (Julia Blake) leads. The gentleman (Charles Tingwell) waits to be asked. "I'm older than you are," he reminds her. "Yes," she replies, "but women are always 10 years ahead." It's a joke - sort of - but it's true as well, certainly in this case.

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Andreas and Claire had been idyllic lovers when they were students in those innocent years before sex became a contact sport and everything you didn't want to know about the female orgasm is readily accessible on the internet.

They dared to kiss in the open air and lay together fully clothed under autumnal skies in a bare beech wood. They hugged at a railway station, so intoxicated with each other, words became obselete. And then he was gone.

This is the story of their reunion, interspersed with romantically filmed speechless flashbacks. One thing remains a mystery: why did the young lovers break up?

Andreas has a supportive daughter and a wife who died violently 15 years previously. Claire has a husband (Terry Norris), who hasn't made love to her for two decades, and a doctor for a son. There is baggage on both sides, the usual restrictions to a mature love affair, but they manage, mainly because she needs it and he has a tendency to wallow in sentiment.

Cox was born in Holland and came to Australia as a photographer and documentary maker in 1965. Since then he has written and directed a number of sensitive, oddly eccentric arthouse movies, including Man Of Flowers. What gives Innocence its edge is the character of Claire. She is a woman of integrity and courage. Andreas, on the other hand, has a soft centre.

Tingwell's performance, like that of Norris, pales beside Blake's dazzling honesty. It is Claire who shoulders the responsibility and carries the film. The men are either soggy, or in denial; 'twas ever thus.

Reviewed on: 08 Jan 2003
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Young love is revisited in old age when Charles Tingwell and Julia Blake find each other again.
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Director: Paul Cox

Writer: Paul Cox

Starring: Julia Blake, Charles Tingwell, Terry Norris, Kristien Van Pellicom, Kenny Aernouts, Robert Menzies, Marta Dusseldorf

Year: 2000

Runtime: 94 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: Australia/Belgium


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