Ignored by her assertive mother (Jean Smart) and her snotty father who's obsessed with his other daughter, 20-year-old Harper Sloane (Sarah Polley) is drawn into an affair with Connie Fitzpatrick (Stephen Rea), a middle-aged Irish photographer. He lavishes upon her all the attention and affection she doesn't receive at home. This socially awkward and sexually inexperienced young woman is sadly lacking in self-esteem. "You're the first person who's ever believed in me," she tells Connie, who, once convinced that she has a good eye, begins teaching her the art of photography.
Audrey Wells revealed a keen understanding of sexual politics in her screenplay for The Truth about Cats and Dogs. In this thematically rich exploration of a May-December love relationship, she demonstrates great skill as a director. In one of the film's most poignant scenes, Harper's critical mother cuts to the heart of why Connie always chooses to love younger women. Yet, despite his personal flaws and idiosyncrasies, this photographer is an artist of encouragement who brings out the best in all of his "Guineveres." In the touching closing scene of this excellent film, Harper gratefully pays Connie back for all the blessings he has brought into her life.