on September 24, 1999 by Annlee Ellingson
   Writer-director Audrey Wells (who wrote "The Truth About Cats and Dogs") crafts a poignant story about affluent young Harper Sloane ("Go's" Sarah Polley), who is swept off her feet by a significantly older bohemian photographer named Connie Fitzpatrick ("In Dreams'" Stephen Rea). Pegged to attend Harvard Law in the fall, Harper is flattered by Connie's belief in her potential as an artist, though she doesn't quite believe it, and soon finds herself lying to her parents and moving in with the older man. What she comes to realize, however, is that she's just one in a long line of young women, all nicknamed "Guinevere," whom Connie has seduced into his world of love and learning.
   Wells' dialogue is both light and loaded. At the lovers' very first meeting, Harper insists, "I don't like to be looked at." Connie replies, "It's a little late for that," foreshadowing that there will, in the future, be a lot of looking going on. Later, she accidentally spills a bottle of booze all over a pile of prints. Connie's affectionate reaction-"Don't worry. I've got another bottle"-implies his eventual submission to alcoholism.
   In these exchanges and throughout the film, Polley and Rea give emotionally raw performances-she as an immature girl, giggling uncontrollably when embarrassed by his propositions, he as a pathetic, aging, unsuccessful artist. But it's Jean Smart (TV's "Designing Women") who's the scene-stealer with her fierce portrayal of Harper's intelligent, successful, attractive mom, frustrated that the world-and her husband-can't appreciate her.
   However, while "Guinevere's" characters and story are engaging enough, Wells' script suffers from holes that take away from the film's effect. Harper tells her parents that she didn't get into Harvard (a lie) so she can stay behind with Connie. But aren't there other schools? Why don't they insist she go elsewhere? And why don't they put a stop to the relationship when it's finally discovered? For that matter, why doesn't Connie's previous Guinevere Billie ("Palmetto's" Gina Gershon) warn Harper before she gets hurt? Unfortunately, it's these questions that come to mind upon reflection on the film.    Starring Stephen Rea and Sarah Polley. Directed and written by Audrey Wells. Produced by Jonathan King and Brad Weston. A Miramax release. Rated R for strong language and sexuality. Running time: 104 min.
Tags: Stephen Rea, Sarah Polley, Audrey Wells, Jonathan King, Brad Weston, Miramax

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