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THE OLD MAN WHO READ LOVE STORIES

Australia / France, 2000 (MIFF 2001, Australian Showcase)

Director: Rolf de Heer

Antonio Bolivar (Richard Dreyfuss) has spent most of his life as a recluse living deep within the Amazonian jungle and passing his days reading pulp romances. His tentative affair with the young Josefina and humourous verbal sparring with a swaggering, itinerant dentist (Hugo Weaving) are put on hold with the delivery to the village of a mauled corpse.

An enraged jaguar is prowling the jungle seeking vengeance for the slaughter of her cubs. With each passing day the death toll rises and the bodies are turning up closer and closer to El Idilio. The corrupt and drunken mayor (Timothy Spall, Secrets and Lies, MIFF 1996), organises a hunting expedition to flush out the marauding beast, pressing a reluctant Bolivar into service

Featuring some marvellous performances, Rolf de Heer's latest film is a lush, romantic and sumptuously photographed tour de force—his intelligent script and fine wide-screen storytelling is outstanding. His handling of Bolivar's final encounter with fate exhibits the hand of a master.

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