‘The Mistover Tale’ and ‘Chinese Puzzle’ bring two views of romance to screen


Romance provides the theme for two films we are talking about this week. A Vineyard-set romantic drama, “The Mistover Tale,” is seeking funding to enter the final stages of production, while the French-language romantic comedy “Chinese Puzzle” opens this weekend at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center.

Harry Tappan Heher, a summer visitor who once lived in West Tisbury, hopes to raise enough money through Indiegogo to complete the film, which was shot on the Island. He weaves in themes of betrayal and conflict between Island natives and affluent summer people, as well as the power of the environment to influence people’s lives. The Island itself plays a starring role in “The Mistover Tale,” inspired by Thomas Hardy’s classic novel, “The Return of the Native.”

“I’d always loved the novel,” said Mr. Heher, who wrote, directed, and produced “The Mistover Tale.” After following his older brother to the Island and working at the Edgartown Yacht Club and l’etoile restaurant in the 1980s, Mr. Heher said, “I really fell in love with the Island.” A family-related Edgartown estate and Long Point Beach reminded the filmmaker of Egdon Heath, as described in “The Return of the Native.”

“The Mistover Tale” tracks the ill-fated romances of Cliona MacEgan (Naomi Packard Dunn) with Henry Goodrich (Mr. Heher), and his sister Tamsin Goodrich (Heidi Pulkkinen) with Ned Luce (Kevin Rice). All four of these characters echo ones who appear in the Hardy novel, as does Priscilla Goodrich, who is played by Island Theatre Workshop’s artistic director Lee Fierro. Ms. Fierro played Mrs. Kintner in “Jaws.”

Mr. Heher wrote the first draft of “The Mistover Tale” in what he describes as “a little Island shack in the middle of nowhere” during the fall of 1999. Principal photography by Michael McDonough (“Winter’s Bone,” “Albert Nobbs”) was completed over the fall and winter of 2000-2001. Island cinematographer Jeremy Mayhew worked as assistant cameraman. Mr. Heher shelved the project for almost 10 years after losing both his parents.

He resumed work on it last year, working at Vineyard Haven’s Galen Films with film editor Petra Lent McCarron. The fundraising campaign on Indiegogo offers perks to donors, including limited edition photographs by Island photographer Molly Peters for donations over $1,000. As of press time, the campaign had raised $11,610 of the $16,000 goal. Once the film is completed, Mr. Heher anticipates screening it on-Island. For more information on the film, visit themistovertale.com.

Romantic comedy rules in ‘Chinese Puzzle’

A more light-hearted but equally complex view of romance, “Chinese Puzzle,” screens at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center this weekend. Written and directed by Cédric Klapisch, “Chinese Puzzle” completes a trilogy using the same characters included in “L’Auberge Espagnole” and “Russian Dolls.”

In “Chinese Puzzle,” novelist Xavier Rousseau (Romain Duris) finds himself adrift at 40 when his wife Wendy (Kelly Reilly of the TV series “The Black Box”) leaves him for another man, taking the couple’s two children with her. Xavier decides to move to New York so he can be near his children and donates his sperm to his lesbian friend Isabelle (Cécile De France). With advice from a bargain storefront divorce lawyer, he engineers an “immigrant” marriage with an Asian women so he can remain in the country, and he gets a job as a bicycle delivery man. An old flame, Martine (Audrey Tautou), comes to visit with her two children, further complicating Xavier’s life.

Director Klapisch leavens this entertaining mélange of liaisons and mis-alliances with animation sequences, shock cuts, image overlays, and other imaginative cinematic devices. Philosophers Hegel and Schopenhauer show up in full costume to advise Xavier in what is nevertheless a thoroughly modern rendition of modern romance.

“Chinese Puzzle,” Friday, June 13, and Saturday, June 14, 7:30 pm; Sunday, June 15, 4 pm.

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night,” Live Theatre in Cinema, Saturday, June 14, 4 pm.

“Driving Miss Daisy,” Live Theatre on Screen, Sunday, June 15, 7:30 pm.

All events at M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven. Tickets, except for special events: $12; $9 M.V. Film Society members; $7 ages 14 and under. For information, visit mvfilmsociety.com.