Taking the sting out of ageing

Wednesday, October 23, 1991 - 10:00

Taking the sting out of ageing

A Woman's Tale
Directed and co-produced by Paul Cox
Screenplay by Paul Cox and Barry Dickens
Starring Sheila Florance, Gosia Dobrowolska, Norman Kaye, Chris Haywood
Reviewed by Ulrike Erhardt

Sheila Florance, the grande dame of Australian film, plays Martha, a woman who combats her illness, remembers her past, helps her amorous friend Billy (Norman Kaye) and fights her neighbours and her well-meaning son (Chris Haywood), all in her attempt to maintain her autonomy in old age.

She relies on the help of a stranger, a young and caring district nurse called Anna (Gosia Dobrowolska), who performs the ultimate act of love by giving Martha a painless way out. Script permitting, Dobrowolska gave an excellent performance.

Writer/producer/director Paul Cox and a brave Sheila Florance, who doesn't mind baring it all for the sake of art, show how to fight mediocrity and inhumanity.

And it's art when the camera, held by award-winning cinematographer Nino Martinetti, makes no bones about all angles of the ageing process.

Martha concludes that life is beautiful (for all its little quirks), love a life-sustaining force (be it physically consummated or not), and a little lack of comfort and the occasional bout of loneliness a small price to pay for independence.

Old or young, it's all the same until our bodies tell us it's time to stop. If you want to take the sting out of death, prepare yourself and go to see A Woman's Tale.

From GLW issue 32