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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Dancing with My Father
by Betty Jo Tucker

Father-daughter dynamics receive a compelling exploration in Henry Jaglom’s Irene in Time. This touching film is blessed with an astonishing performance by Tanna Frederick as a woman obsessed by the memory of the good times she had with her father before he died. Frederick's charismatic appeal reaches out from the screen, drawing us deeper into “Irene’s world” with each successive scene. She makes us laugh, cry, and care about this sensitive young lady who so desperately wants to recapture the feeling of being special and loved.          

Jaglom (Hollywood Dreams), who wrote as well as directed Irene in Time, admits he’s harbored a longtime fascination with the complex relationship between fathers and daughters and the “profound effect that fathers seem to have on their daughters’ lives, often long after the fathers themselves were gone.”  He points out that many important works of literature have dealt with this theme, including Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit, William Shakespeare’s King Lear, and Sylvia Plath’s Daddy. Jaglom also acknowledges an intense interest in movies about how “Love beats Time ” – films like A Guy Named Joe, Portrait of Jenny and Stairway to Heaven. Irene in Time combines these two themes and – of course -- is scheduled for release on Father’s Day weekend (2009).  

The depth of feeling Irene (Frederick) still has for her father comes through in practically all of her conversations -- whether with her women friends, her mother, her lovers, or even with perfect strangers. Some of the best sequences in this film involve revelations by women concerning how their fathers have influenced the way they relate to men and the problems or joys that brings them. Yes, it’s a “talky” movie, but with all the speeded-up camera work, car chases and overblown special effects blasting away at us in so many summer offerings right now, Irene in Time serves as a refreshing change of pace.     

As much as Irene loved her father, she’s shocked at the secrets she finds out about him. Why does a chanteuse (Andrea Marcovicci) sing a song only Irene and her father knew about? What caused the break-up between her mother (Victoria Tennant) and her father? Will Irene be able to decipher the mysterious clues left by her dad? I was fascinated while watching Irene discover the answers to these questions.  

Part of the charm of Irene in Time comes from the film’s lovely music. “When I hired Harriet Schock to write the music,” Jaglom reports, “telling her what Irene in Time was about, she -- stunned -- immediately said to me: ‘I married my father.’ And right there in my living room, she sat down at the piano and played a song for me that she had written, ‘I’m Dancing with My Father.’ Tanna sang it together with Harriet’s band in a club one night and suddenly all the pieces of what I was looking for seemed to fall into place.”

I love that song and the way it’s used in Jaglom’s film. Frederick (Hollywood Dreams) can certainly belt out a tune! She’s a terrific addition to Harriet Schock and her band in their scenes here. I also enjoyed the spirited “I’m Learning at Starbucks” number. And the wonderful Marcovicci (Someone To Love), whose cabaret shows play to sold-out audiences throughout the nation, casts a spell with her soulful rendition of “Forever in Time We’ll Be.”     

Thank you, Henry Jaglom, Tanna Frederick, and everyone connected with Irene in Time. You’ve given us a truly memorable Father’s Day gift.

(Released by Rainbow Releasing and rated “PG-13” for thematic elements and some sexual content. Click here for the film’s official site.)

More information about Irene in Time is available at the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.

Listen to Tanna Frederick's "Movie Addict Headquarters" interview on June 16th by clicking here.

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