You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Solomon and Gaenor

(Welsh, Yiddish and English dialogue)

(Welsh, Yiddish and English dialogue)

A Romeo & Juliet tale set in the Welsh Valleys in 1911, “Solomon and Gaenor” is a small but affecting picture. The more comfortable home for this well-written and well-acted drama about a Welsh girl and a Jewish lad is probably the tube, though it could find small-scale business in the right territories.

Solomon (Ioan Gruffudd) meets Gaenor (Nia Roberts) when selling clothing fabric door-to-door. He can hardly speak Welsh, having been brought up in an English-speaking town, and hides his Jewish identity, posing as Sam Livingstone. She’s an outwardly demure, inwardly resolute daughter of a traditional working-class family, with a dour father (William Thomas) and beer-swilling, Jew-hating brother (Mark Lewis Jones).

Tension is rising in the community as a pit strike looms, and only after she becomes pregnant by Solomon does Gaenor learn his true ethnic identity. The couple decide to flee together, but become separated during anti-Jewish riots.

Popular on Variety

With most of the actors limning racial stereotypes (including Maureen Lipman in one of her patented oy-vey performances), the movie is largely kept going by its two central characters, who are involvingly etched by Gruffudd and Roberts sans cuteness and without losing the fairy-tale simplicity that first-time director-writer Paul Morrison clearly intends. Ilona Sekacz’s filigree, raindrop-like score is nicely attuned to the picture, which realistically evokes its pre-WWI period on limitedmeans.

Pic is filmed with simplicity and precision, accentuating a technically elaborate final shot.

Solomon and Gaenor


Production: A FilmFour Distributors release (in U.K.) of an S4C/FilmFour presentation, with the Arts Council of England, of an APT Film & Television production, in ass ociation with September Films. (International sales: FilmFour Intl., London.) Produced by Sheryl Crown. Executive producers, David Green, Andy Porter. Directed, written by Paul Morrison. Camera (Deluxe color), Nina Kellgren; editor, Kant Pan; music, Ilona Sekacz; production designer, Hayden Pearce; art director, Fraser Pearce; costume designer, Maxine Brown; sound (Dolby), Richard Dyer; Welsh-language assistant director, Bethan Eames; casting, Joan McCann. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (market), Feb. 18, 1999. Running time: 102 MIN.

With: With: Ioan Gruffudd, Nia Roberts, Sue Jones Davies, William Thomas, Mark Lewis Jones, Maureen Lipman, David Horovitch.

More Film

  • Weathering With You

    Japan Box Office Leaps to $2.4 Billion Record in 2019

    The Japanese box office leaped by 17% in 2019 to set a record $2.4 billion score, according to figures announced Tuesday by the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, locally known as Eirin. The previous high was the $2.2 billion recorded in 2016. The Makoto Shinkai animation “Weathering with You” was the highest earning film [...]

  • Lionsgate Developing 'Memetic' Apocalyptic Horror Movie

    Film News Roundup: Lionsgate Developing 'Memetic' Apocalyptic Horror Movie

    In today’s film news roundup, Lionsgate is developing graphic novel “Memetic” as a feature, the latest Laura Ziskin Prize is announced and Firelight Media creates a fund for nonfiction filmmakers of color at the mid-career mark. PROJECT LAUNCHES Lionsgate is in final negotiations for motion picture rights to the apocalyptic horror graphic novel “Memetic” for [...]

  • Sylvie's Love Review

    'Sylvie's Love': Film Review

    Sultry music swells as the camera swoons over a young couple in a tender nighttime embrace. The 1950s residential New York City street is carefully rain-slicked and lined with shiny classic cars: an obvious stage set. Gene Kelly might just have swung on that lamppost; Doris Day might lean out of an upstairs window to sigh [...]

  • Martin Scorsese Irishman BTS

    Martin Scorsese's Body of Work Extends Far Beyond Male-Centric Mafia Movies

    Actors sometimes complain about being typecast, but it’s a fact of life for anyone in entertainment. John Ford is usually labeled a director of Westerns, despite “The Grapes of Wrath” and  “Mister Roberts.” David Lean is known for his epics, but he also directed “Brief Encounter” and “Summertime.” Vincente Minnelli? The director of musicals, overlooking [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    Will Oscar Campaigning Turn to Mudslinging?

    On March 5, 1963, Army Archerd wrote in Variety: “There’s been a not-so-subtle campaign pyramiding since Oscar nominations that Omar Sharif is an ex-Egyptian soldier who fought in the Israeli War. Forget it: Omar sez: ‘I never fought in any army.’” Archerd also denied the rumor that Sharif was Muslim. Two big takeaways: 1. Mudslinging [...]

  • Blake Lively

    Why Blake Lively Isn't Trying to Be the 'Female James Bond' in 'The Rhythm Section'

    “The Rhythm Section,” Reed Morano’s new espionage thriller about a female assassin who sets out to avenge her family’s untimely death, is not a female-led approximation of a “James Bond” film. Though Barbara Broccoli, the magnate producer whose family has been solely responsible for the franchise, is producing the movie, “The Rhythm Section” is decidedly not [...]

  • Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez. Kristen Anderson-Lopez,

    Kristen Anderson-Lopez Talks Responsibility, Representation in 'Frozen 2' and the Biz

    Gender parity isn’t an issue in Oscar-winning songwriting-composer Kristen Anderson-Lopez’s house, what with her longstanding collaboration with husband Bobby Lopez, but at the Oscars luncheon on Monday, it was a different story. “There were 13 female directors represented in the shorts and documentary fields,” Anderson-Lopez notes, adding, “but how do we get from there to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content