Dutch-born filmmaker Paul Cox settled in his adopted homeland of Australia in the mid-1960s and spent over thirty years there honing his craft before becoming disillusioned with the difficulties in raising financing and decamped for Europe. Cox's oeuvre is comprised of mostly cerebral work that challenges audiences and fly in the face of conventional Hollywood fare.
When Cox first settled in Australia, he enjoyed some notice as a photographer. He also was pursuing the hobby of making Super 8 films and eventually moved into filmmaking, first with "Matuta" (1965) which was followed by a long string of documentaries and short films. In 1976, he directed his first feature film "Illuminations" and then gained international attention with the charming but offbeat romance "Lonely Hearts" (1981). Cox's particular blend of verite and artifice in his subsequent work, though, often divided critics who found his efforts well-acted if somewhat slowly paced and talky. His films, including "Man of Flowers" (1983), "My First Wife" (1984) and "Cactus" (1986, loosely inspired by his own mother's bout with blindness), were embraced by his adopted homeland, receiving several nominations from the Australian Film Institute.
Cox scored a hit with "Vincent - The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh" (1987), a biographical portrait drawn from the correspondence of the artist that critic Roger Ebert called "the most romantic and yet the most sensible documentary about a painter I have ever seen." The director's next big screen outing was the psychological drama "Island" (1989), which many found ponderous, despite the fine performances of Irene Papas and Eva Sitta. Cox fared better with "The Golden Braid" (1990), a gentle drama that focused on an obsessive clockmaker who enters into a fantasy world when he discovers the title object in an antique clock. Even more moving was "A Woman's Tale" (1991), a tribute to the Australian actress Sheila Florance who, like the film's frail central character, was dying of cancer. A rare film that presented the elderly with dignity and wit (as opposed to being an object of ridicule), "A Woman's Tale" garnered favorable reviews and reminded many just how potent a movie maker Cox could be.
Following back-to-back adaptations of two novels by writer E.L. Grant Wilson ("The Nun and the Bandit" 1993, and "Exile" 1994), both of which eschewed the director's urban milieu, he returned to his usual interests in the provocatively titled "Lust and Revenge" (1996), a satire set in the art world. Growing weary of the struggle to find financing for his eclectic work, the filmmaker left his adopted home and returned to Europe around the same time audiences were treated to a closer look at him in the documentary "A Journey With Paul Cox" (1997). Settling in Belgium, Cox undertook to translate the life of one of that country's more intriguing persons to the screen, but the ensuing struggles with the producers nearly made him swear off filmmaking. "Molokai: The Story of Father Damien" (1999) required two years of research and included an international cast (Peter O'Toole, Derek Jacobi, Sam Neill), but the producers were unhappy with Cox's take on the material and fired him. He subsequently was asked to take a crack at editing the finished film, but again, his vision was rejected in favor of a more "commercial" look. (The film ended up being released directly to video in the USA.)
Nearing 60, Cox still had intriguing ideas and he concocted "Innocence" (2000), a touching and moving love story about an elderly couple who reunite after some forty years and re-ignite their love affair while coping with infirmities, spouses and memories. Told in a deliberate fashion, "Innocence" was a flawed but touching look at second chances in life and featured stellar leading turns from Julia Blake and Charles Tingwell, both of whom had previously worked with Cox. (Indeed, Cox, like Woody Allen and Preston Sturges, has a clique of actors with whom he preferred to work, including Norman Kaye, Chris Hayward, Gosia Dobrowolska, and Wendy Hughes.)
Director (Feature Film)
Cast (Feature Film)
Cinematography (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Editing (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Visual Effects (Feature Film)
Special Thanks (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Moved to Australia as an exchange student
Returned to Europe
Settled in Australia; held first photography exhibit
Made first film, "Matuta"
Directed first feature, "Illuminations," after having made numerous shorts and documentaries
Founded Illumination Films with Tony Llewllyn-Jones and Bernard Eddy
Gained first international recognition with "Lonely Hearts"
Directed "Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh"
Produced, wrote, directed and acted in "The Golden Braid"
Wrote, produced, directed and edited "Exile"
Was profiled in "A Journey with Paul Cox"
Helmed the biopic "Molokai: The Story of Father Damien"
Garnered praise for "Innocence", a drama about a renewed romance between a couple separated for over 40 years