It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Here is the most passionate and tender love story in many years, so touching because it is not about a story, not about stars, not about a plot, not about sex, not about nudity, but about love itself. True, timeless, undefeated love. "Innocence" tells the story of two people who were lovers in Belgium as teenagers and discover each other, incredibly, both living in Adelaide, Australia, in their late 60s. They meet for tea and there is a little awkward small talk and then suddenly they realize that all the old feelings are still there. They are still in love. And not in some sentimental version of love for the twilight years, but in mad, passionate, demanding, forgiving, accepting love.
Paul Cox's "Innocence" is like a great lifting up of the heart. It is all the more affirming because it is not told in grand phony gestures, but in the details of the daily lives of these two people. Life accumulates routines, obligations, habits and inhibitions over the years, and if they are going to face their feelings then they're going to have to break out of long, safe custom and risk everything.
Their names are Claire (Julia Blake) and Andreas (Charles "Bud" Tingwell). Both actors are respected in Australia, both unknown in North America, which is all the better, because the purity of this story would be diffused by the presence of familiar faces (perhaps, for example, "The Bridges of Madison County" would have seemed riskier without the familiarity of Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep).
Andreas is a retired music teacher. His wife died 30 years ago. Claire has long been married to John (Terry Norris), in a marriage she thinks, in that bittersweet phrase, will see her out. Both Claire and Andreas have children, friends, people who count on their predictability. How, for example, does Andreas' housekeeper of many years feel when she discovers (as a housekeeper must) that he is sleeping with someone?