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True Colors

Fearlessly talking with British writer-director Martha Fiennes about her new movie, "Chromophobia."

Fiennes calls herself a "magpie, taking bits of stories that interested me," including that of a dying prostitute and the social worker who comes to care for her, played by Penelope Cruz and Rhys Ifans, respectively. The story came from a book "about different people's deaths," says Fiennes. Other subjects the film tackles are motherhood, fatherhood and secret assignations, which all come into play among the film's multishaded characters. It explains the film's title, which means the fear of color.

Though the film deals in these broad themes, it's the little details that make it a treat to watch. After all, there is something to be said for the fact that as the plot shifts between the wealthy and the destitute, the common thread — literally — is a red Stella McCartney dress feverishly purchased, then discarded, by Scott Thomas, and later bought in a thrift shop by Cruz.

"Typical movies have baddies and goodies and a hero and a journey, but it's not all so black and white," Fiennes says. "'Chromophobia' is also the title of a work of art that Iona buys, and you can leave it at that, but if you really want to get into it, it's this idea that there are so many colors and tones in everybody's lives that in order to understand them, you have to not judge."
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