Thursday, June 12, 2008
Directed by: Rudolf van den Berg
Writers: Michael O'Loughlin (writer); Rudolf van den Berg (writer)
Starring: Burt Reynolds (Lawrence “Larry” Brodskey), Julie Christie (Narma), Carmen Chaplin (Aisha), Angela Groothuizen (Rose), Pierre Bokma (Max Meyer), Jonathan Ryland (Paddy)
I love movies. No, I am not a professional, either a filmmaker or a critic, and my love for cinema is highly personal. I do not understand the technicalities of cinema. I cannot comment on this shot or that, this piece of music or that. But I can understand good acting from a mediocre one, and a good film from a badly-made one. But I love cinema not because I understand this, I love cinema because it tells stories, or rather, it shows stories. For me a film is good if it can communicate with you, even if the film may not be technically or otherwise good. I liked, still like watching Shyamalan's ‘The Village’, I agree with what critics have to say about the film, but watching the film is good fun anyways.
Therefore, its not surprising that sometimes you come across a film that no body has heard about and it touches you in a way that you wish you had known about the film earlier. The film in question is ‘Shapshots’, starring Burt Reynolds and Julie Christie, can you believe the pairing, and that too Christie as a Morrocan woman. (The film must be really unknown. Even Wikipedia does not have any information about it!). I found it on Zee Studio one night, midway. I watched the film till the end, even if I needed to sleep to attend the next morning's appointment, and then in the next morning, cancelled the appointment to catch the film again. Thanks to the movie channels to run the film again in the morning.
What I liked the film? I don't know. Probably, its touching warmth... It's a simple story told in a simple manner, a bit romantic perhaps, in the garb of a cynical drama. I mean, wasn't 'The Bridges of the Maddison County' a romantic drama?
Lawrence or Larry is a single, middle-aged, ex-hippie, who runs a down-and-out bookshop in Amsterdam. There's is a Ferrari-driving zillionair who wants to buy the place, but Larry does not want to sell it. The shop is his life. "Past is another country, I don't go there..." this is his popular refrain. He is very popular among people for his matter-of-fact attitude, including the aged prostitute who visits him every Wednesday.
Parallel to this runs another story of a mother and daughter pair, Narma and Aisha. They are of Moroccan origin running a restaurant in the US. The father, Saeed Jaffrey in a minuscule role, marries a blonde bimbo, leaving both mother and daughter to lead a free life. And, Aisha decide to visit Amsterdam, with no particular reason.
As the narrative demands, Aisha visits Larry's shop, and it rekindles that lost love in him, about a young Narma whom he had met for three days in Morocco. Soon, a kind of friendship develops between Larry and Aisha, despite well-wishers telling Larry that at his age, a young girl like Aisha could be lethal for him.
Rest is predictable, and you know what we mean when you say that the film ends in a happily ever after mode. Yet you want to how it is done, which is sure-footed and leisurely. For example, when Larry and Narma meets after 30 years, there was no overt drama, there's a simple dialogue, ”you haven't changed a bit”, and a passionate kiss.
Burt Reynolds reminds you of Sean Connery in some parts, which is not exactly a bad thing. He has a pleasant personality and a very expressive face. Julie Christie, as usual, is gorgeous. Carmen Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin's granddaughter, had the potential to be a star. But where is she now?