Solomon & Gaenor
directed by Paul Morrison
(Sony Pictures, 1999)

This forbidden love story, set in 1911 Wales, takes you on a trip back in time when religions divided true love. Solomon and Gaenor, written and directed by Paul Morrison, creates his own version of Romeo and Juliet.

Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd plays Solomon, a handsome Jewish boy who falls in love with a non-Jewish girl. Solomon works for his parents going door to door in town selling fabric. He pursues young Gaenor, played by Nia Roberts (Theory of Flight), who lives in town. She soon falls equally in love as they steal kisses in dark haylofts where no one can find them.

Solomon rebels from his traditional Jewish upbringing by not only falling in love with Gaenor, but from hiding his religion from her. They try and deal with situations out of their control. These situations split the two star-crossed lovers torn between conflicting religions and communities.

Isaac (David Horovich) is Solomon's father, who is suspicious of non-Jewish people due to the harsh treatment they caused him through the years. Isaac's strict behavior towards his son derives from fear of discrimination.

A strike occurs in town after they find that there is not enough money to go around. The Jewish community is a scapegoat as they are chased out by the non-Jewish townspeople. Solomon's mother Rezl (Maureen Lipman) has the family pack up and leave to find shelter elsewhere. Solomon is kept in the dark after a sudden turn of events when Gaenor's family denies him acceptance. His parents send him to work in Cardiff in hopes he will forget about Gaenor, as they too deny the relationship.

Morrison, known for his excellent documentary television shows, brings his historical knowledge and documentary style to Solomon and Gaenor. Morrison, who is also a psychotherapist, adds great detail into his debut motion picture, down to the languages spoken. Solomon's family speaks both Yiddish and English while Gaenor's family speaks Welsh and English. It is fascinating to hear these historical languages spoken.

Solomon and Gaenor was Oscar-nominated as Best Foreign Film. The acting was not overdone, with Gruffudd and Roberts giving heartfelt performances. The film is a heart-wrenching, yet beautiful love story that must be experienced.

Gruffudd has camera presence with his dark wavy curls and deep mysterious eyes that lure you in. You may recognize him from his part as Officer Lowe, who saved Rose in from the icy waters in Titanic. Recently, Gruffudd starred in 102 Dalmatians and is among the next in line to play James Bond.

[ by Lisa Comento ]
Rambles: 7 June 2002

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