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Guinevere (1999)

A young girl from an affluent family rebels and becomes involved with a much older photographer.



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2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Harper Sloane
Deborah Sloane
Susan Sloane
Sharon McNight ...
Leslie (as Sharon Mcnight)
Alan Sloane
Oded Gross ...
Grace Una ...


Connie, an aging Bohemian photographer, meets mousy Harper, headed for Harvard Law from a high-powered San Francisco family, and immediately sees her beauty. He also guesses she has talent and invites her to be his pupil and share his bed. He's Alfred Stieglitz, she's Georgia O'Keefe, and he calls her his Guinevere. When she realizes she's the latest Guinevere in a string of ingenues, she bolts, only to return, sick of her family. She's blossoming, reading, learning, but hasn't yet taken her first photograph when he tells her they're going to L.A., broke, him drinking too much, to sell some photographs. On the trip, she finally snaps the shutter; so does her awe and dependence. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Everything looks better in close-up. See more »


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language and sexuality | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 November 1999 (Portugal)  »

Also Known As:

A Lente do Desejo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,600,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$54,145 (USA) (26 September 1999)


$614,202 (USA) (7 November 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


During the non-union shoot in San Francisco, crew members struck and were joined by star 'Sarah Polley', who walked the picket line. Striking crew members report that they were quite touched by her action, which was more than a gesture, but rather a sincere belief in workers' rights. On her part, Polley called her union, the Screen Actors Guild, to tell them of her action, and the union representative told her they'd back her if she crossed the picket line. SAG assumed that she was calling to ask whether she could defy the strike and cross the picket line! A shocked and dismayed Polley stayed out with the strikers, and the strike ended after three days when their grievances were met. Subsequently, Polley has stated that she has been told that she lost several job offers due to this incident as producers don't want a union 'militant' despite the film industry being a craft industry dominated by the guild (union) system and she did what she felt was right. See more »


The wet spots on Harper's shirt after taking a shower. See more »


[first lines]
Harper Sloane: These photographs of me were taken when I was 21 years old. They were shot on Plus X with a 105-mm lens on a Nikon F-2, developed normal, two stops overexposed. I like this one a lot. The F-2 was lost forever to a pawn shop in Los Angeles four years ago. The photographer lived in San Francisco up until last week. He was the worst man I ever met, or maybe the best, I'm still not sure. If you're supposed to learn by your mistakes, then he was the best mistake I ever made. He was my ...
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Jungle Blues
Written by Ferdinand 'Jelly Roll' Morton (as Jelly Roll Morton)
Performed by Marcus Roberts
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label of BMG Entertainment
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User Reviews

Jean Smart Steals the Show
6 May 2001 | by (Salem, Oregon) – See all my reviews

A young woman living in San Francisco, who has just been accepted to Harvard, decides upon another path after meeting and falling under the influence of an older man, an artist, in `Guinevere,' written and directed by Audrey Wells. Sarah Polley stars as Harper Sloane, who lives with her career oriented, rather self-absorbed family-- her parents, Alan (Francis Guinan) and Deborah (Jean Smart), and her older sister, Susan (Emily Procter). Rather self-conscious and unsure of herself, Harper has allowed her parents to plan her future-- a career in law, though it is decidedly against her own wishes. Then at Susan's wedding she meets the photographer, Connie Fitzpatrick (Stephen Rea), an artist, who quickly gains her confidence and lures her into his own bohemian lifestyle. She moves in with him (unbeknownst to her parents, who think she's staying with a friend for awhile), and he becomes her mentor; she is his `Guinevere,' and the only demands he makes of her is that she `create' something every day. The choice of her artistic endeavors is entirely up to her; photography, painting, writing, dancing. but she must create.

Inevitably, of course, their relationship develops beyond the mentor/protege stage, and she learns some things about him that ultimately lead to complications. And she discovers that her reign as Queen Guinevere may not be all that she had expected it to be.

Wells convincingly presents the allurement of a lifestyle free of constraints and overwhelming demands, which makes it quite understandable that the indecisive Harper would choose to go with Connie, rather than adhere to the wishes of her parents, who are rather cold and impersonal and altogether controlling (especially her mother). The fact that Alan dotes on Susan and could seemingly care less about Harper, as well as Deborah's apparent lack of actual concern for Harper, qualifies the facility with which Harper is able to effect her plans so readily. And even when Deborah finds out what Harper is up to (which, of course, was inevitable), she seems to take it as a personal affront more than anything, and is content with merely denigrating the relationship into which her daughter has entered, rather than even trying to change it, which ostensibly at least, would be the appropriate reaction of a concerned parent.

Polley is well cast as Harper, as physically and emotionally she is able to fit Harper's profile perfectly, and she gives a credible performance, though given her unassuming manner and fairly nondescript appearance, it says more about Connie than it does about her. And what you have already been able to deduce about Connie from his pursuit of Harper is further underscored during a scene in which Deborah confronts him with her views on the situation (which is arguably the most powerful scene in the film).

Rea is perfectly cast, as well, affecting a patient, reserved manner, touched with an almost forlorn weariness evocative of a certain wisdom-of-the-world attitude that makes Harper's attraction to him believable. And as the story unfolds, he very subtly allows you to see more of what lies beneath the surface until, in the end, you have a concise picture of who Connie really is. It's a fine, understated performance, and a good bit of work by Rea.

In a supporting role that demands mention, Jean Smart gives a smoldering performance as Deborah, a woman of seemingly insatiable needs and an overwhelming desire to dominate. And Smart plays it perfectly, from the look in her eye to the telling way she carries herself, making the most of her limited screen time and making Deborah the most memorable character of the film.

The supporting cast includes Gina Gershon (Billie), Paul Dooley (Walter), Carrie Preston (Patty), Tracy Letts (Zack), Sharon McNight (Leslie), Sandra Oh (Cindy), Grace Una (April) and Jasmine Guy (Linda). Though not a film with which you can get too emotionally involved, `Guinevere' has it's moments and does manage to maintain interest. The characters are real enough, but they evoke a sense of ambivalence; these are not people you are necessarily going to like or dislike. In the final analysis, it's a good film, and worth seeing-- but with the possible exception of Smart's character, there is nothing especially memorable or compelling about it. I rate this one 6/10.

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