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Guinevere (1999, Sarah Polley, Stephen Rea)



At the wedding of her sister Susan (Emily Proctor), diffident Harper Sloane (Sarah Polley) has one wish: to be ignored. The event’s official photographer, Connie Fitzpatrick (Stephen Rea), is happy to comply but notices something significant in the shy youngster, who he nicknames Guinevere.

Overlooked by Susan and ridiculed by her harridan mother (Jean Smart), Guinevere responds to the one thing she has never been shown: attention. Complementing her skills at discerning art, Connie persuades her to meet him again. Within weeks she has agreed to live with him and so begins an intense relationship where Connie takes charge to nurture the girl’s artistic talent, and take her as his lover. Then Guinevere learns she is not the first student to have inspired him…

Like Julia Stiles or Claire Danes, the casting of Sarah Polley affords any project an instant dignity. The actor’s versatility – she appeared in Go and eXistenZ in the same year – gives that hoariest of plots (older man beds younger woman) a credibility which similar films failed to attain. Rea’s charm extends beyond the screen but Wells is accomplished enough to highlight the unavoidable sinister tones of his obsession (in the single scene where he labels her ‘my good girl’), a rewarding dramatic experience.

production details
USA | 104 minutes | 1999

Writer and Director: Audrey Wells

Sarah Polley as Harper Sloane
Stephen Rea as Connie Fitzpatrick
Jean Smart as Deborah Sloane
Gina Gershon as Billie
Paul Dooley as Walter
Francis Guinan as Alan Sloane
Jasmine Guy as Linda
Tracy Letts as Zack
Sandra Oh as Cindy
Carrie Preston as Patty
Emily Procter as Susan Sloane