I've Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Scatterbrained Polly gets a job as a secretary in Gabrielle's art gallery. Polly aspires to be a professional photographer, and idolizes Gabrielle for her artistic ability. When Gabrielle rekindles an old romantic relationship with the younger painter Mary, Polly becomes jealous, and discovers Gabrielle is not who she claims to be.

  • Polly Vandersma, an unsuccessful and somewhat talented photographer leads a solitary life in a Toronto apartment with her photos as the only décor and her bathroom-turned-darkroom as her one friend. She's neither self-absorbed or bleak, instead content within the fantastic visions she experiences when her image emerges in the developer. Her toothpaste factory job is a failure and she's a lousy typist, but life takes a turn when she lands a part-time secretarial job in a downtown art gallery working for the french curator Gabrielle, a woman as elegant, self-composed and concerned with "important art" as Polly is awkward, unsophisticated and dumbfounded by "gallery art." As a foil to Polly's innocent joy in the minutiae of the ordinary world, the failed artist Gabrielle is desperate to create "just one truly beautiful thing" before she dies. Polly's first person narration in this 1987 low budget film, juxtaposed with the director's view of her photographic antics, creates an insight into the odd world in which she's fallen a la a very modern day public radio program examining one's internal views and external outcomes. In the cross-hairs of Polly's and Gabrielle's lives, the film examines the ages old ideas of what is love and art? What is talent and worth?


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