Projections - Movie Reviews

Solomon and Gaenor Solomon and Gaenor

Though set in 1911 Welsh valley areas, the Oscar nominated Solomon and Gaenor, a tragic love story, emanates with feeling that couples deal with when religious barriers loom.

Perhaps akin to the recent Butterfly it positions an undercurrent of melancholy to early 20th century Wales.  Paul Morrison's deliberate, ambiguous feature in Welsh and Yiddish effectively relates the similar lives of the lead characters.

The twenty something Gaenor (Nina Roberts) is a kind of subservient waif from a bigoted Welsh coal mining family.  She is seen laboring for her father (William Thomas) and brother Crad (Mark Lewis Jones) after a hard days work at the mine.  Some fulfillment comes to her through assisting religious instructor Noah (Steffan Rhodri).

She becomes enamored with Solomon (Ioan Gruffudd), a young Orthodox Jew traversing the rainy coal dust as he sells cotton fabrics door to door for his parents.  What the handsome, considerate young man does by posing as a gentile from another village will ultimately provide problems for the reticent and attractive Gaenor.

Morrison shows control over his undulating tale with a hidden Jewish heritage amid the feelings of anti Semitism tempered with the romance of these secret lovers.  A red calico dress produced by Solomon for his lady as a gift works into passion and sadness.

But, the story reiterates as the irony of love in a bleak world, having to deal with the reactions of the religious sect and Solomon's family.

As Gruffudd and Roberts excel in conveying their desires and torment, hatred is personified by Jones, who does not like Solomon.  It all leads to violence.  Morrison works nicely to capture some telling images through the lensing in teal hues, yet the uneven pacing keeps this rainy day movie down.  So when Solomon and Gaenor ends the heartfelt emotional energy which liken to Charlotte Bronte is too pallid, given its self assured nature.

Solomon and Gaenor

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