Retro Review: Republic of Love

Director Deepa Mehta of “Bollywood, Hollywood” fame sculpts a new film about love, how it affects us and how it can find us.

Based on the much loved novel “The Republic of Love” by “The Stone Diaries” author Carol Shields, the film stars Bruce Greenwood (“Thirteen Days”, “Below” and “Exotica”) as Tom Avery, a lonely late-night radio station DJ who has been unlucky in love.

Living in Tom’s building is Fay (Emilia Fox), a museum researcher and folklorist whose current passion is the exploration of the “mermaid” myth.

Both have one thing in common, they are disenchanted by love.

One day, Tom and Fay meet and an instant connection is felt as the factors of “love at first sight” envelope the couple.

Before Tom can get any details or even an email address, Fay leaves for France on a research trip. Tom is beside himself so he hunts down some way to contact the woman he can’t forget.

Eventually he gets a letter through and their bond intensifies. A whirlwind engulfs the two star-crossed lovers as a lifelong bond is born.

Unbeknownst to Fay, Tom holds a secret and an impending tragedy is coming.

Can these lovers overcome these events and still forage ahead together? Can their love overcome?

“The Republic of Love” is a celebration of love and the love story genre.

For a cynic like me it is hard to grasp the concept of a straight forward love story anymore. I need to know the passion and details of the people involved before I can grasp the idea of love.

Mehta’s pacing is also something that needs to be addressed. From the couple’s first meeting to there eventual love scene it is very quick and we really never get a chance to see any chemistry between the couple. Greenwood’s moody eyes and Fox’s pouty lips are staples of their attraction but there seems to be no more than that.

That is the case because the film seems to rushes off to mix the couple up before they are an actual couple. Greenwood’s characters hang-ups and love addiction are discussed then passed. When the film finally concludes it never fully deals with his imperfections. The finale is very one-sided and that is a shame since the first half was so brilliant in laying out these people and who they are.

I am a huge supporter of Bruce Greenwood in anything he does. I really enjoyed him in his quirky television roles in cult series like “Sleepwalkers” with Naomi Watts or the UPN head-twister “Nowhere Man”. Probably his two most underrated performances were as President John F. Kennedy in “Thirteen Days” and as a sub-mariner in the cult film, “Below”. In this film, Greenwood is strong and poignant as Tom but the film’s third act really takes away everything Greenwood poured into Tom. That is a real shame that the film doesn’t deal with Tom’s hang-ups.

I also really enjoyed seeing a performance from relative new comer Emilia Fox who stars opposite her acclaimed actor father Edward Fox (“Gandhi” and “A Passage to India”) in this film.

She reminds me of Mrs. David Mamet, Rebecca Pigeon but has the compassion of an early Rachel Weisz or Kate Beckinsale. I really enjoyed her humility and wide eyed innocence as Fay.

The film’s rich lush layers of color and texture made for some interesting apartment scenery. Some of the shots set up by Deepa Mehtra echo the world around the characters really well and make for some interesting foreshadowing and atmosphere.

I was just really disappointed by the film’s third act. I really wanted to see some of these people have complex emotions and deal with the problems brewing within the couple away from the world around them. These people hardly know each other and we hardly know them. I just wanted more depth.

(3 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

One thought on “Retro Review: Republic of Love

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