Critical Review and Bibliography

By Stephanie Higgins



Nation of Origin: Australia

Language: English

Runtime: 94 minutes


Rated: R for Sexuality/Nudity

Genre: Drama/Romance

Part One: Film Information

Movie Cast:

Charles Tingwell: Andreas Borg

Julia Blake: Claire

Terry Norris: John

Kristien Van Pellicom: Young Claire

Kenny Aernouts: Young Andreas

Robert Menzies: David

Martha Dusseldorp: Monique

Chris Haywood: Minister

Norman Kaye: Gerald

Joey Kennedy: Sally

Liz Windor: Maudie

Dawn Klingberg: Restaurant Owner

Peter Gerber: Doctor #1

Kate Roberts: Doctor #2

Movie Crew:

Director/writer: Paul Cox

Producer: Paul Cox and Mark Patterson

Executive Producer: William T. Marshall

Associate Producer: Willem Thijssen

Screenplay: Paul Cox

Cinematographer: Tony Clark

Editor: Simon Whittington

Music: Paul Grabowsky and Jan Vancaillie

Costume Design: Bernadatte Corstens

Production Companies:

Strand/New Oz Productions

Showtime Australia

South Australian Film Corp.

Illumination Films

Cinete Worldwide Sales

International Film Festivals



Fireworks Picture (IDP Releasing)


Release Dates and Box Office Information:

Canada: September, 8 2000 (Toronto Film Festival)

Australia: December, 21 2000

U.S.: September, 7 2001

U.K.: January, 9 2003 (Raindance Film Festival)

Innocence is made for $AUD 856,000


Interviews with the Filmmakers:

Interview with Paul Cox in 2001

Interview with Paul Cox in 2000

Interviews with the filmmaker and also the movie casts are available in the DVDÍs special features; these are the running times: Cox (22:54), producer Mark Patterson (5:49), Tingwell (9:29), Blake (11:56), Norris (9:04) and Grabowsky (9:15).




Awards and Film Festivals:


Montreal World Film Festival 2000


Taormina International Film Festival 2000

Toronto International Film FestivalÍs PeopleÍs Choice Awards 2000


Australian Film Institute Award 2000

Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards 2001

Golden Trailer Awards 2002

Innocence was also awarded the Marquee Audience favourite Award at the CineVegas International Film Festival 2000.

Online Presence:

Methods and Effectiveness of my Research:

As this movie was only recently made, most of the research is done through the internet. Information and reviews on Innocence can be easily located through the Google search engine. Due to the fact that Innocence is a well-known movie, there were many websites on this movie, which had made my research easier to do.

Somehow, I was hoping there would be an official website for the movie but it was removed from the Internet not so long ago. I had to go to different websites to find out more about the movie. Also, I had great difficulties finding the interviews with the filmmakers and movie casts.

Part Two: Critical Review

Plot and Synopsis:

Set in suburban Australia, retired musician, Andreas Borg (Charles Tingwell) discovers that his first true love, Claire (Julia Blake) lives in the same town as him. He decides to write her a letter and suggests that they meet again. Claire hesitatingly responds and agrees to meet again to catch up with old times. Things get complicated when they both discover that their love has not faded. After 50 years of being apart and having to find each other again, their passion for each other is as strong as ever and they begin an affair that complicates their lives.

Claire has been married to John (Terry Norris) with Children. However, she has been unhappy for a long time as her needs are always rejected. The couple has not had sex for the past twenty years. While Andreas has been a widower for the past 30 years. To add on that, Andreas is afflicted with cancer and John (ClaireÍs husband) reacts in a negative way after being told about his wifeÍs infidelity. John actually thinks that Claire was joking. He then speaks with his son saying that she must be suffering a delusional disease and thinks that she needs some psychiatric help; he claims that it is impossible for a 70 year old to fall in love and that there is no such word as love when one hits that age.

It started off when Claire agrees to meet Andreas at the cemetery, where the remains of his wife are moved to a new location. Claire starts consoling him because Andreas was in grief. She then follows him back to his place and spends the night there. She then returns home the next morning and admits her act to John. She claims that at that age there cannot be any secrets.

Transported back to their adolescence, the lovers decide that they're too old for games. They embark on a physical relationship with wild abandon while openly admitting their affair to Claire's husband. There are times when Claire would run to Andreas house and stay the night.

Claire suggested to Andreas that they had to go somewhere after running into her husband in a restaurant. They decided to go to the church; the place where both of them used to go and Andreas would usually play his organ there. As Andreas plays the organ, Claire dances to the song along the aisle with her arms up in the air. When Andreas was done playing he turned back with no signs of Claire but to find her on the floor. Claire has passed on.

Andreas and his daughter then attends ClaireÍs funeral and is given a letter which Claire had written given by her son. The movie may looked not ïcompleteÍ, with John being lost as the last meeting they had at the restaurant was rather bitter. While Andreas has to get back to his normal life without Claire.


Innocence is a very ïdifferentÍ movie. I mean there are not many directors who could make a movie on an elderly couple who rekindle a 50 year old romance. Cox has depicted a reality that some people can relate to and ponder at.

It is rare that couples talk about their feelings in a movie. Somehow, Cox has portrayed such circumstances that many people would have to go through. "Love becomes more real the closer it comes to death," says Andreas in one of the scripts. This movie is so touching that it rediscovers the throes of passion at a time when death waits in the wings. Andreas and Claire had not much time left with death so close, their love is so much purer than ever compared to when they were only 19. They lived as if there were tomorrow by giving their love a second chance. As they knew that their time is so limited, they made the best of every meeting. There is a scene when Claire acts melodramatically at Andreas house: "Keep me here! Help me! ... There won't be a tomorrow. Now you take me here and now, otherwise you will never ever see me again! ... I don't want sacrifice, I want love." Love is all Claire wanted which her husband, John could not provide.

The film emphasizes on love that everyone would have to deal with at some stage. In a way, Cox tries to say that love is not about age but it completes everything when there is love and that it should not be taken for granted. This movie also challenges our prejudices about the elderlyÍs sex lives. Sex is almost always delegated to the younger generations in movies, as well as in real life. People would never stop to think that older people remain active in their love lives long after they hit a certain age.

I would also give credits to the three main characters as they have acted with such great courage and with such ambition. They managed to pull off such a realistic emotion, which intrigued me very much. That they have held on to these emotions for more than forty years is a testament to the fact that some love never truly dies.

I find the repetitions of flashbacks of Andreas and Claire as young lovers were very good especially the repeated vision of their reflection on the window of a moving train. I must also add that the colours and music used were nicely saturated for the right feel. The elements used has made the movie look more melodramatic.

When I first rented out this movie, I did not think it would appeal to the younger demographic as this is a love story featuring senior citizens. Although the movie maybe slow moving in the beginning, I was transported into this world where when it comes to love, age does not matter. Innocence has portrayed such circumstances that some people could relate to.

Production Circumstances:

This script was written in Canada during his 3-D IMAX film production. Paul Cox developed the idea after seeing an old couple crossing the road holding hands. It took him not more than three weeks to complete the entire script. It did not take him that long to write the script simply because there were so many technical problems to produce the 3-D IMAX film and followed by the bad weather.

The movie finished in 2000 and was only made for $AUD 856,000. In comparison with other movies made, Innocence is relatively a small budget.

Film in relation to crewÍs other work:

Cinematographer: Tony Clark

Besides being a cinematographer, Tony Clark is also an assistant director and in charge on the visual effects. He worked again with Charles Tingwell and Julia Blake in Human Touch (2004). He is currently working on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as the digital effects supervisor.

Producer: Mark Patterson

Before he became a producer, he worked in Canada for Cinema City and was also the director of AustraliaÍs FAMES film festival back in 1988. He is now a South Australian based producer, and has worked as the manager of the Film Development at the South Australian Film Corporation. Other than Innocence, his other work includes the urban thriller Dope.

Lead actors: Charles ïBudÍ Tingwell & Julia Blake

Charles Tingwell or also known as ïBudÍ is one of AustraliaÍs most experienced actors. He entered the film industry just after the Second World War and has starred in numerous feature films and TV shows ever since. Charles has also produced and directed several TV shows. He also starred in Human Touch (2004) with Julia Blake. Innocence was his first on-screen love scene.

Julia Blake is a multi-award winning actress and is married to Terry Norris in real life. She has starred in more than 30 feature films and TV shows. She has also starred in many of Paul CoxÍs previous productions, which includes Lonely Hearts (1981), Man of Flowers (1983), Cactus (1986) and Human Touch (2004).

Director: Paul Cox

He is one of the most important independent filmmakers to come out of Australia. Cox immigrated to Australia where he became a photographer and then a filmmaker in the 1970s. He has produced more than 25 documentaries and feature films in a span of 35 years; most of his work deals with human frailty.  Throughout his career, Cox has received numerous international awards for his excellence in film, which includes Lonely Hearts (1981), Man of Flowers (1983),My First Wife (1984) and many more. Paul Cox has an ongoing relationship with many Australian actors. He worked again with cinematographer Tony Clark and both Charles Tingwell and Julia Blake in Human Touch (2004).

Position in Australian Cinema/Genre:

There has always been a debate over what genre an Australian movie is as most movies have a mixture of genres. Innocence can be under the genre of melodrama even though it has been classified as a drama/romance type of movie in most reviews. There may have been romantic clips but it is considered more of a melodramatic movie as Innocence involved a very dramatic ending where Claire unexpectedly dies in the church while Andreas plays the very sadist kind of song on the church organ.

The Australian cinema is very lucky to have such creative director like Paul Cox. He has made many feature films, which are known world wide. His work has been praised and honoured not only in Australia but also around the world. Innocence has gained international recognition as it was screened in every country of the world. To add on that, this movie managed to earn millions of dollars in the box office even though it was only made for $AUD 856,000.

This movie is rather different. It is not the conventional Australian movie nor the American kind of movie. ñYou can make the most beautiful film on earth if you donÍt follow the American movie making ruleî claims Paul Cox in one of his interviews with Richard Phillips. It is understood that 95 percent of the material screened is American which is a big shame of film today. I must give Paul Cox credit for making such an outstanding movie that not many other directors can pull off.

Although this movie does not touch on the Australian way of life and culture, it relates to many people around the world. I feel that Innocence allows the audiences to look at ïloveÍ differently. Love is not about age but it applies to all; when there is love there is life, love completes everything.