Let's talk about sex. Even better, let's go right at it.
That's what Jeremy Podeswa does in his 1995 directorial debut, Eclipse (imdb listing), the story of 10 people whose paths cross in unusual ways and under weird circumstances in Toronto during the two weeks preceding a total solar eclipse.
Granted, such a mystical and highly hypnotic event could throw anyone off balance, but these 10 simply abandon reason, give in to temptation and throw themselves into an abyss of sexual encounters with one another in their search for true love. Podeswa indulges us with the complex and inextricably linked portrayals of these individuals, revealing their deepest fears, their darkest secrets and their compelling and all too familiar longing to love and be loved.
We meet Henry, a street hustler; he's young, beautiful, exotic, accommodating and emotionally severed from his surroundings. He's with Brian, a successful businessman looking for a quick forbidden thrill to fill the emptiness left by the demands of job and family. Brian returns home to Sylvie, the maid and his mistress, his obsession, who sees nothing in him but another household chore. She prefers the anonymity of an encounter with Gabriel, an Argentine immigrant whom she meets at the language institute where they both study English. Gabriel though longs for a real connection and believes he found it with Sarah, an Argentine socialite who is now married to Norman, a Canadian immigration lawyer. Their marriage is one of duty as much as of convenience, and Norman, ridden with guilt and in denial, gets his kicks with Angelo, a high school student, who is infatuated with the joy of living and loving. Angelo is fascinated with Michael, an artist with a flair for the extreme and perverse, but the high-strung Michael prefers to risk his long-standing friendship with Jim, an actor. Jim, disillusioned and heartbroken, falls prey to the determination of Carlotta, a world traveler, who brings us full circle when she wakes up on the morning of the eclipse in the bed of Henry.
These encounters are beautifully shot, bold but never explicit, and the puzzle turns into a complete picture through the inserted segments of a documentary, a school project shot by Angelo on a camcorder. It explores the carnival-like atmosphere that has befallen the entire city and takes us along for the ride on a wave of excitement, expectation and awe in face of the impending event. For a few moments, the world comes to a stand still and everyone has a chance to reflect on the meaning and fragility of life and love, while Podeswa dazzles us with footage of an actual eclipse, shot in 1991 in Mexico, already with this film in mind.
Eclipse, which received two Genie Award nominations in 1995 (Matthew Ferguson as Best Actor and Pascale Montpetit as Best Supporting Actress), is a masterpiece of cinematography and superb acting that brings its message across in a very simple, primal and successful way: Let's talk about sex, baby.
Filmfodder Grade: A