Based upon the Guy de Maupassant story, GOLDEN BRAID is an eccentric feature about the value of love and antiques from Paul Cox (MAN OF FLOWERS, A WOMAN'S TALE), the idiosyncratic Australian filmmaker.
Bernard Simon's (Chris Haywood) family home is full of the old-fashioned clocks, powered by springs and pendulums, that he repairs. He is drawn to the timepieces and various antiques, he explains, because of the generations of people who have lived with and loved them. Bernard's own love life is
far from seamless; he's having a long-term affair with a married social worker from the Salvation Army. (Her appearance in uniform at his front door is one of the film's droller moments.) Terese (Gosia Dobrowolska) is unhappily married to Joseph (Paul Chubb), a fellow officer in the Salvation Army
to whom she had felt indebted as a young immigrant.
From time to time Bernard visits a psychiatrist (Norman Kaye) with whom he has cryptic conversations. Characteristically, not only does the psychiatrist reiterate that Bernard resume his medication, but also occasionally reclines on his own couch next to Bernard during their sessions. More
crucially, Bernard does not tell him about his latest acquisition.
While repairing a century-old writing cabinet he has bought, Bernard discovers a secret drawer inside which lies a braid of hair of a color similar to Terese's, gold with reddish highlights. In his obsession with this braid, Bernard forgets his promise to make breakfast for Terese and starts to
disregard her. He even forgoes a repair job on a clock imbedded in a stuffed hind. At one point he takes the braid to bed with him, and goes so far as to place it in the seat next to him during a cello concert. For her part, Terese not only has reached the point where she discloses her affair with
Bernard to an obtuse Joseph, but also chides her lover for his apparent indifference to her needs.
The solution to this curious triangle lies with Bernard's disapproving housekeeper (Marion Heathfield), who discovers the braid in the corduroy jacket she takes to the cleaners and simply discards it. Not only does Bernard return to the repair of the abandoned clock, to the delight of its owner,
he finally professes his love for her to Terese and they are last seen strolling arm-in-arm.
Despite its fascinating topic, GOLDEN BRAID does not entirely succeed. The dialogue, scripted by Cox and Barry Dickins, is very sparse and often inconclusive, when not downright pretentious, Bernard's cryptic comments on the nature of love when with Terese, for example. There is a subplot
involving Bernard's brother Ernst (Robert Menzies) that remains cloudy, since it's difficult to determine whether Ernst is impoverished, a con artist or just very eccentric. Underscoring the film's theme of romance, Cox utilizes repeated close-ups of the clocks' inner mechanisms, which Bernard
refers to as "hearts." But this emphasis, beautiful as the images are, comes across as an effort to create some frame for the weaknesses of script and direction. The problems with GOLDEN BRAID raise the issue of the dilemma of short films, since commercial pressure may have demanded a
feature-length movie where a shorter work would have sufficed. (Adult situations.)
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- Released: 1990
- Rating: NR
- Review: Based upon the Guy de Maupassant story, GOLDEN BRAID is an eccentric feature about the value of love and antiques from Paul Cox (MAN OF FLOWERS, A WOMAN'S TALE), the idiosyncratic Australian filmmaker. Bernard Simon's (Chris Haywood) family home is full… (more)