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Autumn Hearts: A New Beginning [Import]

Susan Sarandon , Christopher Plummer , Paolo Barzman    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 16.61 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching, gown-up, beautifully acted drama Nov. 5 2011
By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
A group of survivors from a French based concentration camp in WWII
gather for a weekend at a country home in Quebec, more than 30 years
after the war.

Most critics either praised this to the skies, calling it as powerful as
Bergman. or they damned it for being slow, too familiar, sappy and
not special. I lean more towards the positive.

First of all this is a wonderful bunch of older actors (Max Von Sydow, Susan
Sarandon, Gabriel Byrne, Christopher Plummer) and, as one would expect,
they each bring a lot to their roles.

It is also beautifully photographed.

If not quite Bergman, I do buy it as 'Bergman-lite'; the same sense of the
confusing complexities of the human heart, and the way earlier damage done
always comes back to haunt us.

Yes it has a few over-the-top moments, and it ultimately didn't pack quite the
punch I expected, but I was never bored, despite the deliberate pace, and found
each of these lost souls quite compelling.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Time Heals All Things Aug. 2 2008
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
AUTUMN HEARTS: A NEW BEGINNING is another one of those independent films that lacks an audience until the DVD is released. Granted it is not based on subject matter that titillates the big movie house throngs, but it is a warmly tender film about the emotional effects of historical traumas and how each of our histories molds our lives. It is a superb work on every level. Director Paolo Barzman brings to life the novel 'Emotional Arithmetic' by Matt Cohen (as adapted for the screen by Jefferson Lewis) with a sterling cast of consummate actors. The impact is lasting.

Melanie Winters (Susan Sarandon) lives on a picturesque farm in Canada with her retired university professor husband David (Christopher Plummer) and their grown son Benjamin (Roy Dupuis), an unexplained single father of his own son Timmy (Dakota Goyo) and caregiver for his physically ailing father and mentally fragile mother. Melanie lives in the past: as a child in 1942 she was interned in Drancy, an internment camp outside of Paris where she bonded with a young man Jakob Bronski and an Irish lad Christopher - taking on the responsibility of maintaining the written history of the camp at Jakob's request so that atrocities such as they were witnessing would never occur again ('Always remember'). At one point Jakob turned himself over to the Nazis to allow Melanie and Christopher to be released.

Now, years later, Melanie is still cataloging all of the atrocities in the world as they appear in the newspaper and continues to attempt to find Jakob. Jakob writes to her and soon is arriving in Canada as an elderly man (Max von Sydow), traveling with his surprise guest, the adult Christopher (Gabriel Byrne). It is this visit that reunites Melanie, Jakob, and Christopher that allows closure to their turbulent history and a healing not only for the three survivors but for Melanie's family also. It is as though it took a quiet time in the beauty of nature and the life-sustaining atmosphere of a farm to cleanse these 'autumn hearts' from the anguish of the past.

Not all of the elements of the story are resolved: we never learn much about Benjamin and his state of solo fatherhood, David's private life that so incenses Melanie, etc. But these are minor exclusions in this beautifully sculpted story and film. The cinematography by Luc Montpellier and the musical score by Normand Corbeil capture not only the beauty of the Canadian landscape and lush colors of the farm in autumn, but also heighten the authenticity of the Drancy camp experience in the black and white flashbacks. This is an exceptional film that deserves a wide audience. Grady Harp, August 08
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I would have told them not to remember, but to LIVE" Dec 16 2008
By Z Hayes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
"Autumn Hearts: A New Beginning" is a poignant movie that deals with three survivors of an internment camp during WW II. Though the pace of the movie is slow, it flows well and the story of three 'damaged ' individuals is poignantly told. The fine acting by a stellar cast makes this a riveting watch.

Susan Sarandon plays Melanie, a 50-something year-old woman who lives in Quebec with her retired college professor husband, David [Christopher Plummer], son Benjamin and young grandson Timmy. Melanie is an emotionally-disturbed woman, a legacy from her traumatic childhood experiences during WW II. As a child, Melanie was sent to the transit camp Drancy in France, and never saw her parents again. She meets a young Irish boy, Christopher [Gabriel Byrne] and both youngsters are taken under the protective wings of an older young man, Jakob [Max Von Sydow]. The three form a life-long bond even after the end of the war.

Fast forward 35 years later - Melanie has invited Jakob to spend some time with her, and to her surprise, Christopher tags along too. Painful memories are stirred up - and things are made more awkward and difficult given that Melanie's husband David is resentful of the two visitors and jealous of Melanie's closeness to Christopher. The rest of the story deals with how the three survivors make peace with their past, especially Melanie and answers whether closure is something they can achieve.

The acting in this movie was top-notch. Susan Sarandon credibly portrays a survivor who is wracked by guilt [common amongst many survivors of the Holocaust] and who is extremely determined not to forget. Her pain is so palpable and yet frustrating because we can see how her pain and determination to live in the past has taken a toll on her family life. Max Von Sydow is amazing in his portrayal of a selfless man who sacrificed his very happiness and life for the sake of his young charges - being shipped off to Auschwitz, and then enduring decades in Stalin's Gulag before finally resuming some semblance of a normal life. His most striking dialogue in the film is the phrase "If you ask me if I believe in God, I ask you does He believe in me?" is profound indeed.

Gabriel Byrne's Christopher is no less compelling. He plays a man who still holds a torch for his first and perhaps only love, Melanie and how he too has been traumatised by their camp experiences, though he chooses to dwell on the positive [meeting Melanie] rather than the bad. Christopher Plummer is also credible as the disillusioned husband who struggles to come to terms with his wife's emotional instability, choosing to distance himself rather than extend comfort.

All in all, I loved this movie - it deals with the difficult themes of 'survivor guilt' and the emotional toll on the survivor's family. Yet, the movie explores these themes without actually showing any gruesome footage of the actual wartime experiences. Instead the principal actors are able to convey this pain and emotional baggage through their facial expressions and dialogue delivery.

The cinematography is breathtaking, and provides a vivid contrast to the deep pain and emotional scars within the three actors. The score is haunting and truly captures the emotions evoked by the movie. I highly recommend this to all those seeking a well-acted human drama.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing film...would watch again. July 20 2008
By Steve Kuehl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
There are few times that I would watch a film again, or give a 5-star rating, but this movie gets awarded both another viewing and the highest rating. An incredible performance piece set on the breathtaking panorama of a beautiful Canadian ranch.

There are so few chances to hear those unforgettable voices in the same film, yet two of the most prominent orators in Christopher Plummer and Max Von Sydow, get to exchange lines of pain, remorse and forgetting here. Supported with the cast of Gabriel Byrne, Susan Sarandon and Roy Dupois, all that is needed would be a powerful story and a rich backdrop to fill the screen; both are here.

The story jumps between 1980s Canada (in majestically filmed colors and pans) and 1941 France (shown in matted black and white flashbacks). Susan Sarandon plays a medicated woman still dealing with the pain of being a camp survivor from 1940s France, now living an obsessive life with her husband (Plummer). She manages to find her protector from the camp (Sydow) years later and invites him to her ranch. He surprisingly brings along her long lost love from their internment (played quietly by Byrne). The story plays out in a mix of flashbacks and the reliving of moments, edited flawlessly into the character's present day at the ranch.

There is so much more to write about in explaining the complexity of these people's lives, yet how simple everything seemed by the end. Even with the amount of angst, remorse and psychiatric damage, everything evolved perfectly into an amazing story and movie. This will definitely be on the recommendation list.

The DVD has a nice 15 minute making-of docu and a trailer. When you watch the behind the scenes footage on location, you will get an idea of how the camera work enhanced the Canadian landscape into that montage of colors.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction in a powerful story. Dec 6 2008
By Harold Wolf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
If you enjoy history from the personal point of view, try this DVD. If you have to have blood, sex, and violent action to hold your interest then this is not the movie for you.

"Autumn Hearts-A New Beginning" is about 3 Holocaust survivors meeting after years separated by countries and time. Melanie (awesome Susan Sarandon) and Christopher (Gabriel Byrne) are both children in a camp which also held older Jakob (Max von Sydow). All have had to deal with their experience alone and in different ways. All have lost something because of their confinement.

Reuniting on the beautiful scenic farm of Melanie and her husband, the 3 eventually are able to come to grips with some of the hurt they yet deal with. Healing begins in other areas, also with Melanie's family members, & even secret areas of their inner most feelings.

The strength of this movie is through the characters that have been portrayed by a superior cast. This is a story that steps well beyond simple film entertainment.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The cast is everything! Dec 4 2008
By Jan R. Schulman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This is a fascinating story, as are stories about long lost loves and lives and coming to grips with what has been left unfulfilled. But it is even more than that, and this cast brings all of their exceptional skill and beauty to portraying the complex issues at hand. It's not necessary for me to rehash the story here since it has been done quite well by other reviewers, but the only reason I did not give it 5 stars is because it does actually drag in a few spots. Not that this is an action film, except for being emotionally active, but the energy flags now and again. Still, I would highly recommend this film for people who like the subject matter and who appreciate the outstanding acting skills of Susan Sarandon (my favorite), Gabriel Byrne (another favorite), Christopher Plummer and Max Von Sydow (excellent job here). Enjoy the movie. I have not read the book, but plan to.
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