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Fifty years ago, as a fabulously gorgeous young couple, Claire and Andreas had one of those idealized movie romances — you know the kind, with bike rides through sun-dappled woods and lusty picnics and lots of clinging to each other in train stations. It's understandable that 70-something Andreas (Charles Tingwell) would still be dwelling on the memory of that idyll, which we get to see through artful flashbacks. So he writes to Claire (Julia Blake) and asks to see her again; they meet for lunch and discover the old spark is still there. He's a widower and she's married to a man who's pretty much ignored her for the past 35 years — with little fanfare or consideration, they begin an affair. Love stories about people in their later years are few and far between, which is undoubtedly why Paul Cox's film was so lauded on the film festival circuit: Innocence (2000) won the audience award in Cannes and two awards at the Austrailian Independent Film Awards, as well as taking honors at festivals in Montreal, Toronto, and St. Tropez. While studded with excellent performances — most notably the extraordinary, still stunning Blake — the film suffers from lack of joy. Yes, a bittersweet sense of impending sorrow tends to be a hallmark of great romances, but it seems a shame that Cox chose not to focus more of his story on the happiness of the couple's finding each other again, rather than manufacturing all sorts of incurable diseases and hospital scenes and tragic death to create melodrama. But despite Cox's slight mishandling, Innocence is still a moving testament to the power of love to make a life whole, no matter how late in the game one finds it. Columbia Tristar's DVD release of Innocence offers a very good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio in English or French, as well as subtitles in English, French and Spanish. Theatrical trailers, keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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