Solomon & Gaenor
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As timeless as young love and as tragic as Romeo & Juliet, SOLOMON & GAENOR is a lush Oscar(r)-nominated romance featuring star-crossed lovers caught in a cultural crossfire. Wales in 1911 is a beautiful world, but fraught with racial and economic unrest. Solomon is young, handsome and Jewish, selling linens door-to-door in a nearby mining village. There he falls for Gaenor, the daughter of a strict chapel-going family, and decides to conceal his heritage in order to win her heart. Passion blossoms, with hope and happiness achingly near, until Solomon's secret is revealed. Now the lovers are forced to separate forever by their families, their faiths and a tragic twist of fate.
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This is a beautiful and tragic love story. But more than just a love story with romance and sentimentality, this film is an authentic portrayal of the cruel realities of barriers and bias between two families, or two cultures, so to speak. Ioan Gruffaudd and Nia Robert are excellent as Solomon and Gaenor. As much as Solomon's light personality and charming manner appeals Gaenor, Gaenor's womanhood and demureness attracts Solomon. He is deeply attached to Gaenor, while at the same time, he struggles to choose between his family and his love. This time "Hornblower" reveals his softer side and delivers the complexity of Solomon vividly. Nia Robert, with her fine artistry, brings unique strength to the character, which can be felt just from the expression of her eyes and her face. The music is beautiful. The camera depicts the story with simplicity and yet striking effectiveness.
While the story of Solomon and Gaenor is sad, the sadder lies in the fact that nobody but their own families, people who loved them, was to blame for the tragedy. Although one may find the time and location of the story - 1911 Wales - remote, the story itself is but familiar even in the modern times. If only there were more understanding and respect among people no matter what they believe in and where they come from!
If you're a Gruffudd fan, you'll get this movie no matter what. If you're a movie fan, rent before you decide to buy.