The Golden Braid

February 25, 1991

The Golden Braid

The Golden Braid

Directed by Paul Cox

Written by Paul Cox and Barry Dickens

Based on a story by Guy de Maupassant

Reviewed by Debra Wirth

Perhaps if director Paul Cox, in introducing his latest film at the premier in Sydney, hadn't requested the audience "to try to laugh at us and don't take it too seriously", the temptation would have been to read something more profound into The Golden Braid. It is certainly not a mainstream film, most of which Cox apparently loathes.

Braid's characters are off-beat but also very ordinary and believable. The main character is Bernard, played by Chris Haywood, a role very different from most of his previous roles. He is a mender and collector of antique clocks, obsessed with the passing of time.

Bernard believes that old things, and even dead people (he quite likes graveyards), are more real than the new or the living. His psychiatrist initially condescends to this eccentricity but then becomes irritated and is more interested in dosing him with lithium.

Bernard's passion for old things becomes intense when he finds a lock of plaited hair in a hidden compartment of an antique cabinet. He becomes so obsessed with the lock of hair that he begins to think of it as the perfect companion. He tells it that people only love bits of each other whereas he loves all of the braid, every hair.

His relationship with his lover, a social worker in the Salvation Army played very well by Gosia Dobrowolska, falters as his attention is taken more and more with the braid.

The Golden Braid is a pleasantly intimate film about pleasantly eccentric people, which this reviewer did not find at all lacking in "lustre" or "warm humanism", as did the Sydney Morning Herald reviewer.

The only irritation of the film is the use of close-ups of the internal workings of timepieces. A swinging pendulum appears behind the credits at the beginning of the film, threatening the viewer with motion sickness. Later scenes are interspersed with close-ups of cogs and other ticking and chiming mechanisms, which ends up being quite annoying. Aside from that, if you feel like a departure from glossy mainstream cinema, The Golden Braid is worth a look.

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