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Join Date: Aug 1999
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Didn't see a thread for this one so I figured I'd do one. This one is an older man/younger woman romantic dramedy type flick, starting Sarah Polley as the younger woman. She's always been a favorite of mine since The Sweet Hereafter, one of my all time favorite movies. As usual with the movies I review, nothing blows up real good, except maybe the overly repressed family dinner ambience once or twice.
It's a relationship flick, and explores an interesting dynamic I thought. We find out that she's just one in a long series of women that this man has been involved with. He has his particular schtick and works it well, and basically just moves from one protege to another. But he does it in such a way that it's not really predatory, it's just now he is and he also manages in the process to force the girls he gets involved with to step up to their potential. He's a photographer and lover of the arts and finds young girls who he believes have talent and becomes their lover/mentor for a period of time until they inevitably grow up enough to realize how wierd the situation is and leave. He strokes their egos heavily, which both works to his sexual advantage but which also gives them the confidence to step up and become something.
But we find they don't really run away either. There wasn't evil intent, and he does in his own way help them, so they all tend to sort of remain around in his halo, trying to help the new recruits along as well. It's sort of sick but not sick at the same time.
Sarah Polley plays the penultimate recruit, and the story is mainly about her going through his process. He basically convinces her to turn down Harvard Law to become an artist, and she is smart enough to know that the situation is sort of depraved (he's the loving daddy she doesn't have at home) but at the same time doesn't want to break away and honestly loves him.
The story plays out very nicely and it's very well acted. Jean Smart plays Sarah's character's mother. She's the cynical intellectual in a sham marriage, and a corrosive home environment for her daughter to grow up in, and plays it well. She finds out what is going on and comes by and pretty much just pins him to the wall and flays him with a brutal analysis of what he's all about. But you get the feeling it's more about how her daughter's situation reflects on her, or a challenge to her control of her daughter, than any protective maternal instinct.
I find Sarah Polley to be one of those girls who isn't obviously beautiful but is beautiful nonetheless, and they really play to her strengths in this movie. The camera loves her a lot, which is good for setting up the vibe of the relationship at the center of the movie.
Anyhoo, if you are into this sort of thing, definitely check it out. It actually has quite a bittersweet ending of the sort you wouldn't necessarily guess is coming. The relationship both makes you squirm a bit and at the same time, as an older man myself now (ouch, first time I guess I've really said that out loud not as a joke), I could see how it would be a very interesting and stimulating (on multiple fronts) situation to be with a beautiful younger girl and to help her develop as a person, with the both altruistic and guilty feelings that would create.