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The Five Senses
The Five Senses
Actors: Mary-Louise Parker, Gabrielle Rose, Philippe Volter, Daniel MacIvor, Pascale Bussières
Director: Jeremy Podeswa
Genres: Comedy, Drama
R     2001     1hr 46min

The talented ensemble cast brings humor and passion to five troubled and triumphant characters struggling to make sense of their world. Together they have almost nothing in common except the desire to experience true intim...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Mary-Louise Parker, Gabrielle Rose, Philippe Volter, Daniel MacIvor, Pascale Bussières
Director: Jeremy Podeswa
Creators: Gregory Middleton, Alexina Louie, Alex Pauk
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Drama
Studio: New Line Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 01/23/2001
Original Release Date: 01/01/2000
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2000
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 46min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, French

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Movie Reviews

Thought-provoking Canadian masterpiece.
Veggiechiliqueen | 08/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

""The Five Senses" is a profound film about what it means to be human, and about the loss of innocence and the yearning for touch, for comfort, for love. Set in Toronto, it follows the lives of around a dozen characters over a three-day period. The central theme is based on the exploration of the five senses and how these senses or lack of them influence our lives. The main premise is that a toddler has gone missing while under the care of a masseuse's alienated daughter. The film follows the lives of the people who live in the same building as well as the people that are related to the missing child. Rona, the baker who turns out gorgeous cakes that have no taste and her Italian live-in boyfriend Roberto, an aspiring chef, represent taste. Richard, a French opthamalogist who is going deaf and Gail, a prostitute that he has hired to listen to music with him, explore sound and its absence. 16-year old Rachel is deeply alienated and confused. There are hints to sexual abuse when she was younger, she dropped out of school, and along with her newfound friend Rupert she explores voyeurism and gender roles, representing sight. Robert is a bisexual housecleaner who is desperate for "the right one," so much so that he meets with former lovers to sniff them, believing he has the ability to smell love. Ruth is a widowed masseuse and the mother of Rachel. She has the ability to use touch to soothe others but longs for comfort herself. For me the most touching story was that of Richard. Having my life revolve around music I have often pondered what would happen if I began to lose my hearing. It is one of the most frightening things that I can think of. Richard makes lists of seemingly ordinary things (thunder, trains, birds) that he wants to listen to one last time in order to catalogue them in his mind. He even calls his daughter in order to tape her voice so he can listen to it again and again. He hires the prostitute Gail to listen to music with him, and with deep tenderness she helps him cope with his advancing hearing loss. All of the stories are engaging and overlap occasionally. Some of the background details are left sketchy or occasionally absent, but the viewer is left with enough to piece together. This is a movie that requires thinking. It is not a Hollywood fairytale by any means; it is not wrapped neatly and tied with a bow. It is real life, things and people that we know instinctively. The cinematography is stark, with many shadows and cold lighting. It captures the feel of Toronto in fall perfectly, but also highlights the emotional and physical isolation of the characters in the film. My favourite part in the film is when Rachel, returning home after crossdressing Rupert, finally gets a glimpse of the mysterious singer that was heard throughout the film. Ruth briefly mentioned this to Richard, saying that no one had ever seen her. But Rachel, after exploring gender roles and sexuality, peers through a crack and sees a beautiful man standing alone singing with the voice of an angel, showing that beauty is not confined to male or female but that it transcends gender. This singer is Daniel Taylor, one of my two favourite countertenors. His appearance is very brief but his voice and his music helps tie the film together, linking Richard and Rachel in their quest for beauty. Taylor is Canada's most famous countertenor and one of the best in the world. I actually rented this film just to see him in it and I wasn't disappointed. For me the music to this film is exquisite. Much of it is baroque, polyphonic, medieval, and one John Dowland Renaissance song with four Spanish songs thrown in. Daniel Taylor performs "Amarilli mia bella" and "Come to my window." Below you will find the listing of songs used in the film. There are some scenes involving nudity and sexual themes (voyeurism, crossdressing) and some strong language. But overall this film made me think more than any other film I've seen in the last ten years. And that's a good thing."
A work of art
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 01/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In movies, as in most other art forms, the greatest of works often come in the smallest of packages. Such is the case with "The Five Senses," an independent Canadian production that chooses for its subject nothing less profound than a meditation on what it means to be human. Writer/director Jeremy Podeswa has fashioned a work of great poetic form and insight centered around a group of people who share the universal need to find true love and acceptance in a world where wounded and shattered relationships all too often result in magnified loneliness and despair. Like all of us, each of these characters gropes towards the dual goals of intimacy with others and acceptance of oneself that are essential for human happiness. Some succeed, while others fail - just as in life - but none of the characters is left unchanged by the experience."The Five Senses," though it has a plot, is more of an emotional mood piece than a narrative-driven drama. Blessed with an outstanding ensemble cast, Podeswa is able to draw us in to the center of his world through the use of sensory imagery and deliberate, methodical pacing. In fact, one of the strongest themes running through the film is its examination of the part our senses play in defining our world and character. Podeswa understands that we have become desensitized to our senses. As a result, he uses this film to reconnect us to that crucial element of our beings. The quiet, hushed tone, the muted autumnal colors, the slowly moving camera, the haunting musical score all combine to create an atmosphere in which the audience can become conscious of every sight and sound that comes our way. In our effort to establish meaningful intimacy with other human beings, we most typically rely on the sense of touch - yet, this can serve, Podeswa shows us, as much to trap us into a false intimacy as to lead us into one that is genuine and lasting. A number of his characters use sex as a substitute for true closeness, while others make a physical connection on a much deeper level. One of the most moving moments in the film occurs when a gay man - most probably an AIDS patient - breaks down in tears during a massage session, his heart broken because no one has dared to touch him in so long a time. This film acknowledges the vital part that tender physical contact plays in the totality of a person's humanity. In a similar way, the film explores the beauty of sound, as one of the characters - ironically, an eye doctor, a man dedicated to preserving the organ of one sense - faces the prospect of impending deafness and yearns to create a mental catalogue of all the exquisite sounds of everyday life that he will soon no longer be able to hear and that we so routinely take for granted. Yet, like all the other characters, it is his spiritual emptiness and inability to make a meaningful connection with another human being that bring him his greatest obstacles to happiness. Podeswa also examines the part smell plays in making that vital human connection, as one of the characters - a lonely gay man - revisits his former lovers to take a whiff of their scent in an effort to discover if he can smell "true love."Yet "The Five Senses" is not merely a movie built on a clever "gimmick." On the contrary, it breathes with the fullness of humanity because each of its many characters emerges as a fully developed, instantly recognizable human being. There are teenagers alienated by their own inability to fit into the accepted norm of society and made to feel guilty by their acts of careless irresponsibility. There are mothers terrified of losing their children, in one case, literally, as her young girl wanders off and disappears and, in another case, figuratively, as her adolescent daughter seems to be slipping away into inexplicable "strangeness." There are adults unable to comprehend a life filled with failed relationships who strike out in desperation for that one last opportunity for happiness, often with the result that they end up further away from that universally desired goal than ever. One of the most daring aspects of "The Five Senses" is that it does not succumb to the temptation to provide either a "happy" ending or even a conclusive one for all of its characters. The film acknowledges that life is a messy, never ending process of changing fortunes and personal growth and it stays true to that theme all the way to the end.This brave, haunting and mesmerizing film definitely stands as one of the true movie finds of recent years - a true work of art!"
Little known masterpiece -- find it, savor it, share it!
A. D. Cox | northern PA, USA | 09/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First, I should admit that I am biased toward this film to start. I adore movies that have several different characters -- or several different storylines -- that begin weaving together and intensifying as the film builds to its climax. There have obviously been many films that have attempted this. Some have had more commercial, popular success, while others have succeeded in creating something more subtle and beautiful. "The Five Senses" definitely falls into the second category. If your favorite kind of film is murder, mafia, gang wars, and/or "lots of stuff blows up", this movie might put you to sleep. If you appreciate a movie that allows you a slice of life -- a moment, a day, a short period in a life where suddenly everything shifts for characters so real you're instantly enamored with them, then find this movie. The details, both in the dialogue, and on the actors' faces, as well as in color and music and setting, draw the viewer right in. I FELT for these characters, I hurt for them in their awkward, painful, yearning moments. Another reviewer here has mentioned that this film came from the writer musing on Diane Ackerman's book, "A Natural History of the Senses". If that is true, I'm excited to read the book, and see the differences, see how the book and lovely language becomes the muse for something as visual and populated as the film.

Other films that weave separate stories together into one story: "Crash", "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her", "Magnolia", "The English Patient" (somewhat), "Vantage Point", "Love Actually" ... "The Hours" (also a book, as is "The English Patient"), "Evening" (book first) .....

Using the Body to Reach the Soul
Alysson Oliveira | Sao Paulo-- Brazil | 02/20/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It seems that year after year, Canadian cimena becomes the more soulfull in the world. Films like Egoyan's "Exotica" and "Sweet Hereafter" have been aclaimed world wide, but this "The Five Senses" also deserve be praised.Director-Writer Jeremy Podeswa was very fortunate when he created a metaphor for each sense and used each in the main characters. The metaphors are easy to be detected, but not easy to be understood. You have to pay attention to understand how the main characters deal with `their' specific sense and what it changes his/her life through the movie.The cakemaker who cooks tasteless cakes; a doctor who is getting deaf; a masseuse who is losing the touch with her daugther who, by the way, is starting to `watch' people; and a bissexual man who can smell love. To make things worse --or should I say better-- there is a missing girl, who virtually connects every story -- and senses. If you think it may read very simple, go and check this film. Things here are much more complicated as the look. Using material tthings like cakes, perfumes et al. the filmmaker reach the `spiritual' level and abstract concepts like love, friendship and family. The cast deliveries very fine. It is very easy to get involved with all these people and their problems. The best ones are Mary Louise Parker -- as the cook -- and Molly Parker as the mother of the missing girl. Their work is so hearfelt that it is impossible no to care about them.This is a film for grown-ups. It deals with subtle subjects that touch deep in the audience hearts and souls. Kids looking for some explosions, fights and sex should stay away from this movie."