A Winter Tan | Chicago Reader

A Winter Tan

Based on the late Maryse Holder's collection of letters published as Give Sorrow Words, this remarkable and unique Canadian feature follows Holder, as portrayed by Jackie Burroughs (The Grey Fox), on the extended sexual and sensual quest in Mexico that ultimately led to her death. Far from being depressing, the film is life embracing and often exhilarating, thanks in large part to Burroughs's extraordinary presence and charismatic performance, and the beauty and intelligence of the letters. (Although Holder wrote at one point that she was “on vacation from feminism,” feminist insights about power and pleasure are still central to her writing.) The film's methods of conveying the text are original but never simply contrived or clever; Burroughs neither “recites” nor “acts” the letters in any conventional manner, but often delivers them straight to the camera (or to the characters she's with) with a disarming directness. Although the film is very much her show, it is also a collective effort, codirected by Burroughs, producer Louise Clark, cinematographer John Walker, sound person Aerlyn Weissman, and John Frizzell; the unity of their conception really works, and the film breathes with a single fiery voice and vision.

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