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A Woman's Tale

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All-Reviews.com Movie Review: A Woman's Tale

Starring: Sheila Florance, Gosia Dobrowolska
Director: Paul Cox
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 94 Minutes
Release Date: May 1992
Genre: Drama


*Also starring: Norman Kaye, Chris Haywood, Ernest Gray, Myrtle Woods



Review by Pedro Sena
4 stars out of 4

This is the story of an old woman, who is spending the last years of her life attended by a nurse, who has a special liking to the feisty old lady. The old lady is independent, a true lover of nature, despite her really sad story in the middle of the war. And as usual, the old lady has her squabbles with the landlord, and the son, until he realizes that the old lady is right.

In the meantime, the old lady is up to her enjoyable adventures during the day, which as it really turns out, are her escapes from the horrible events which she has endured. But it doesn't matter, she has a liking for helping people, and even has a boyfriend, and wants the nurse to make sure they make love in her bed after she dies. And of all the oddities, she smokes, not because she is nervous, but because she loves it, and a restaurant owner gets the brunt of her opinion on the matter and that is that.

One day she falls, is taken to the hospital, and found out to have cancer, with a very probable chance of survival three months at best. She promises a young nurse to be out of the hospital, and does get out, because she can do all the exercises in the ward, and has earned the nickname of rabbit. She wants to go back to her apartment, but the landlord is playing jerk. But he has to give in because the old lady has something over him, a certain ability to put him in the right place. And there she does die, with one last shot of morphine..... you must keep the love alive.....

What the film does not say afterwards, is that this old lady, Sheila Florance, won the Australian Oscar last year, and a week later died of cancer. The film was her crowning achievement in a lifelong dedication to an artform that she believed to the very end. Even in the process of playing a character, this old woman still sits naked on a bathtub, where she has her memories of the horrible past.

And if you don't come out of this film with a tear in your eye, shame on you is what Sheila is going to say. There are some truly funny moments... talking about aging, and how the bird is seven years old ( quite old for a bird ) and the sucker doesn't have a single grey feather..... and many other moments which really shake one's heart. In the meantime she tries to save someone else from suicide over the radio, and even manage to help many of her aged friends, who really have lost the desire to live, which she definitely has not.

It is not only difficult to do something like this, it is also a magnanimous gesture, and the director should be commended for this very beautiful film. It's hard to tell where the film ends and the real Sheila starts, but it doesn't matter. It all fits in together so tightly woven, so pretty, that there aren't enough tapestries in life that look this good and cry the creed of love so clearly, as this film does....................

Copyright 1994 Pedro Sena

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