January 5th, 2006 at 11:33 am
Posted by admin in Hollow Reed


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Oliver & Martyn
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December 2nd, 2005 at 11:42 am
Posted by admin in Hollow Reed

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December 10th, 2003 at 4:39 pm
Posted by admin in Hollow Reed

Five questions with Martin Donovan: Dining with daddy By MEG RICHARDS – The News-Times, May 9, 1997

Martin Donovan likes a hearty breakfast. At a small restaurant near his Manhattan home, he orders a dish called the Lumberjack – two pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and coffee.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, is it not?” the actor queries between bites. “Isn’t that what your mother told you?”

Donovan, 39, must be doing something right. A screen veteran who has appeared in about a dozen films, he’s most often identified for his work as the leading man in Hal Hartley’s quietly quirky films such as “Trust,” “Simple Men” and “Amateur.”

He was critically acclaimed last year for his performance opposite Nicole Kidman in Jane Campion’s “Portrait of a Lady.” His latest film is “Hollow Reed,” Angela Pope’s cautionary tale of child abuse and gay parenting.

Set in peaceful Bath, England, “Hollow Reed” also stars Joely Richardson, Jason Flemyng and Ian Hart. The movie, which is loosely based on a true story, touches on several hot-button topics and contains some all-too-familiar elements for Americans.

The young son of a divorced couple is being abused by his mother’s violent live-in boyfriend. His father, played by Donovan, is determined to rescue him. The story grows more complicated because Donovan’s character is gay and Britain’s courts, like those in the United States, don’t favor granting custody of young children to gay parents.

Born in California’s San Fernando Valley, Donovan says he always knew he wanted to be an actor – his first role was in a high school production of “Bye Bye Birdie.” He later studied acting at the American Theatre Arts in Los Angeles, where he met his wife of 13 years, actress Vivian Lanko. They have two children.

1. What do you do when you aren’t working?

Donovan: I don’t really have any hobbies …. I keep telling myself I would like to buy a nice telescope and go out in country and look at the stars with my kids. I know it changed my life when I saw the rings of Saturn from my driveway in my suburban home in Reseda (Calif.). It made me think deep thoughts.

2. What is the significance of the name of your recent film, “Hollow Reed?”

Donovan: You would ask that, wouldn’t you? I haven’t a clue! It has something to do with a quote from Pascal… and then somebody said, no it’s not Pascal, it’s somebody else… `a man is just a hollow reed…’ it’s some poetic reference. I don’t know. I feel stupid. (According to Bartlett’s, it’s poet Blaise Pascal’s line: “Man is but a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed.”)

3. Were there any concerns about how this film would be perceived by American audiences?

Donovan: No. If you mean American audiences in terms of a mass audience, I’m not interested in a mass American audience, or for that matter any mass audience. That’s not why I’m in it. I’m interested in trying to do intelligent stories that have some relevance to real life. I’m not interested in playing games … not that there’s not a place for entertainment or feel good movies.

4. There were no big explosions in this movie.

Donovan: Right, and there were also no easy endings. The characters were far more complex than the characters in your average mainstream film. Even the boyfriend is drawn in a very complex way. There’s a lot of moral ambiguity and I don’t think the ending is particularly satisfying.

5. What was it like to perform your love scene with Ian Hart?

Donovan: It was the first gay love scene I’ve ever had. And it was difficult in so far as all sex scenes are extremely difficult. Straight ones are just as bad. If I can get away without feeling like I’ve been humiliated, then I feel I’ve succeeded.

6. There are so many things about this film that are outrageous on so many levels … was it difficult for you to do as a parent?

Donovan: I didn’t let that stuff get underneath my skin. First of all, I wasn’t involved with the tougher stuff, with the abuse. I wasn’t around that. All of my stuff was about nurturing the child. I didn’t have to go there, you know? I wouldn’t be able to play a character who would … be physically abusive to a child.


April 30th, 2002 at 11:48 am
Posted by admin in Hollow Reed

New York Times
Hollow Reed
By Stephen Holden

Rigid and wide-eyed with terror, 9-year-old Oliver Wyatt (Sam Bould) steals into the recesses of his mother’s garage where he cowers in the darkness like a frightened animal, clutching his injured hand, and waits for his mother to return home from work.

Oliver has just been brutally punished by Frank Donally (Jason Flemyng), his mother’s architect boyfriend, for some imaginary infraction. It’s not the first serious injury Oliver has suffered at Frank’s hands, but the boy is scared to tell his mother that the man who has made her so happy is responsible.

The scenes of this frightened child navigating through the house in which this abusive monster could spring out at any second are among the most wrenching moments in Angela Pope’s powerful and unsettling film, “Hollow Reed.” Adapted from a short story by Paula Milne, the British film is a probing sociological tract fitted into the contours of a suspense thriller. Casting a cold inquiring gaze on contemporary British attitudes toward divorce, child custody and homosexuality, the film looks deeply into the network of troubled adult relationships surrounding Oliver and finds a maelstrom of resentment and sorrow.

At the heart of the drama is a failed marriage fraught with extreme bitterness. Oliver’s parents, Martyn (Martin Donovan) and Hannah (Joely Richardson), have divorced after Martyn, a family doctor who had been struggling to suppress his homosexuality, finally acknowledged his orientation and left his wife for a male lover. Hannah, who also works in the medical profession, has assumed custody of Oliver. She unabashedly hates her ex-husband, whose live-in boyfriend, Tom (Ian Hart), works in a record store.

Whenever Oliver is hurt, he runs home to his father, who has been granted limited access to his son. After the boy has suffered several mysterious “accidents” for which he invents unsatisfying explanations, Martyn intuits that Frank is the culprit. And when Hannah unexpectedly returns home and discovers her lover beating Oliver, she throws him out of the house.

If the movie ended right here, it would be a pat little drama of child abuse, denial and discovery. But Frank weeps and loves his way back into Hannah’s good graces and vows never to strike the boy again. A vicious child custody battle ensues in which Hannah and Frank unite against Martyn, whose homosexuality is used against him in court interrogations that are loaded with nasty insinuation. And in the film’s ugliest scene, Frank takes Oliver aside and poisonously tries to instill him with a fear and loathing of homosexuality. At the same time, Martyn’s and Tom’s edgy relationship is severely tested.

“Hollow Reed” makes no bones about whose side it is on. Martyn is a gentle, caring father who, although far from comfortable living as an openly gay man, stands up for the truth no matter how personally embarrassing. Hannah may be a loving mother, but her decision to lie in court about Frank’s behavior is an unforgivable betrayal of her son.

The exceptional performances go a long way toward shading characters who might easily have been painted in black- and- white. Donovan gives Martyn an anguished perplexity and stubbornness that is not altogether heroic, while Flemyng reveals the frightened little boy (who was abused by his own father) inside the macho man. Hart’s tartly fiery Tom has no patience for Martyn’s initial impulse to try to conceal their relationship. Ms. Richardson delivers a compellingly scary portrait of a determined woman driven by revenge and her own sexual needs to do the wrong thing.

If “Hollow Reed” is a little too schematic and builds to a clumsy soap-opera finale on Hannah’s front lawn, it gets under the skins of its major characters in a way that movies seldom do. Long after it’s over, you will remember their hurts and worry about the damage done to the child caught in the crossfire of their passions.