The Republic Of Love

The Republic Of Love


Reviewed by: Symon Parsons

Tom (Bruce Greenwood) is a late-night radio host, who discusses failed romance with his listeners between songs. Raised as a training baby by 27 schoolgirls in a homemaker's class, he was reared on a surfeit of love, and three failed marriages later is still searching for it.

Fay (Emilia Fox) is a curator at a folklore museum, with a special interest in mermaids - mythical creatures of perfection. Her parents (Martha Henry and real-life dad Edward Fox) have been in love for 40 years - something she fears she'll never emulate. Consequently, she's never been seriously involved with any man.

What Tom and Fay share is a belief in love, the sort that knocks you off your feet and leaves you gasping, the sort that never ends. So when their eyes meet, sparks immediately ignite and they embark on a seemingly ideal romance. But can this hearts, flowers and arrow-happy cupids malarkey be sustained? When Fay begins to doubt it, she wonders if love is ever worth the heartbreak that must inevitably follow.

Set in a chilly Toronto winter, The Republic Of Love is a quirky romance from the director of the equally wacky, but rather more likeable, Bollywood/Hollywood and Deepa Mehta brings her Indian influence to what is otherwise a standard bit of middle-aged navel gazing.

Based on the novel by Pulitzer and Booker winner Carol Shields (The Stone Diaries), this is an exploration of love in a cold climate, where Tom and Fay's near-religious belief in true love is what sustains them, especially when the evidence all around suggests that love is a transitory and fickle thing.

The problem is that the film approaches a deeply non-cerebral subject in a very intellectual fashion. The script makes no attempt to explain the attraction between the leads, and Fox and Greenwood give cool, studied performances, so the love they keep telling us they feel is never made apparent. Mehta does her best by inserting long takes of doe-eyed longing between the pair, but it just doesn't convince.

It is this remote aloofness on the part of the filmmakers and actors that renders The Republic of Love interesting, but hardly romantic. For a film about abiding passion, that's something of a handicap.

Reviewed on: 10 Feb 2005
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Two sceptic believers test the fallibility of true love in a cold Toronto winter.
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Director: Deepa Mehta

Writer: Deepa Mehta, Esta Spalding, based on the novel by Carol Shields

Starring: Emilia Fox, Bruce Greenwood, Edward Fox, Martha Henry, Jackie Burroughs, Alec Stockwell, Lloyd Owen, Gary Farmer, Rebecca Jenkins

Year: 2003

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Canada/UK


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