Solomon & Gaenor

Solomon & Gaenor (Welsh: Solomon a Gaenor) is a 1999 Welsh film written and directed by Paul Morrison. It stars Ioan Gruffudd as an Orthodox Jewish man named Solomon Levinsky who falls in love with a gentile woman named Gaenor Rees, played by Nia Roberts. They enter into a forbidden love affair, which has tragic consequences.

Solomon & Gaenor
Directed byPaul Morrison
Produced bySheryl Crown
Written byPaul Morrison
StarringIoan Gruffudd
Nia Roberts
Sue Jones-Davies
William Thomas
Mark Lewis Jones
Maureen Lipman
David Horovitch
Music byIlona Sekacz
CinematographyNina Kellgren
Edited byKant Pan
Distributed byAPT Films
Release date
  • 30 April 1999 (1999-04-30)
Running time
105 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$165,485

It was filmed twice, once with principal dialogue in English and once with it in Welsh. In the English-language version there are scenes in Welsh and in both versions there are scenes in Yiddish. Its Welsh-language version was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 72nd Academy Awards.


In 1911, a young Orthodox Jew named Solomon Levinsky (Ioan Gruffudd) lives with his Yiddish-speaking family in the South Wales Valleys. Solomon peddles fabrics door to door, but hides his ethnicity due to anti-Semitism. One day, Solomon meets a demure, young gentile woman named Gaenor Rees (Nia Roberts), who he instantly falls in love with. Solomon tells Gaenor his name is Sam Livingstone and that his family is English. Solomon makes Gaenor a red dress and has her try it on. He is struck by how beautiful she looks and they share their first kiss.

Gaenor's father, Idiris (William Thomas), finds the red dress and demands to know who gave it to her. Gaenor introduces Solomon to her family, who are polite, but suspicious of his intentions. Solomon hides his relationship with Gaenor from his family. Due to the burden of keeping the secret, Solomon begins to struggle with his faith and feels distant from his family. After they are intimate for the first time, Solomon guesses that Gaenor was not a virgin and she reveals she was once engaged to a man, who was severely injured in a mining accident. Gaenor wants to meet Solomon's family, but he claims that his mother is ill and his father is away.

Before going to see Gaenor, Solomon hides his tallit in a wall, which is witnessed by his brother. Gaenor's violent brother, Crad (Mark Lewis Jones), invites Solomon for a drink with his friends and teases him about his profession. Gaenor becomes frustrated with Solomon's unwillingness to introduce her to his family and tells him she feels like she means nothing to him. One day in church, a fellow parishioner named Noah Jones (Steffan Rhodri) accuses Gaenor of being pregnant. When asked by the vicar to confirm or deny the accusation, Gaenor has to admit in front of the whole congregation that she is pregnant. The Rees family is then expelled from the church.

Solomon comes to see Gaenor, but her sister, Bronwen (Bethan Ellis Owen) tells him that Gaenor does not want to see him. Solomon hides out near Gaenor's home to get a chance to speak to her, but is beat up by Crad's friends and has to run away. Solomon finally gets to talk to Gaenor and is stunned when he finds out she is pregnant. Gaenor tracks down Solomon and confronts him about lying to her about who he is. Solomon explains that his family will not accept her and he would be cast out for being with her. Solomon also admits that even he has struggled to accept her. Gaenor tells him that her family has arranged for her to stay with extended family elsewhere and the baby will be taken away. Gaenor and Solomon begin to see each other again in secret and plan to run away together.

Anti-Semitic feelings rise in the valley due to many people's financial struggles. Crad and his friends plan to ransack the shop owned by the Levinsky family. The family decides to hide elsewhere when they get wind of the plan. That same night, Solomon and Gaenor plan to run away. Solomon sneaks out and is devastated to see his family's business being destroyed. Solomon's father, Isaac (David Horovitch), catches up with him and tells him that if he leaves with Gaenor, he will be dead to the family. Solomon reluctantly returns to his family, who have lost everything after the ransacking.

Solomon leaves for Cardiff to work for his uncle to help his family get back on their feet. He writes letters to Gaenor, but they are disposed of by Crad. Gaenor asks Isaac and Solomon's mother, Rezl (Maureen Lipman), where Solomon is, but they decline to tell her. She reminds them she is carrying their grandchild, but they reject the child. Gaenor is sent away to have the baby. Solomon learns from his mother that Gaenor has gone and returns to the valley. He finds Crad, who refuses to tell him Gaenor's location. Solomon violently attacks Crad and repeatedly demands to know where Gaenor is; Crad tells him and he sets off to reunite with her.

Solomon treks through the harsh winter to find Gaenor, who is staying with her aunt. When Solomon finally arrives at the home, he is severely ill. Gaenor nurses Solomon, but it is clear it is too late to save him. As Solomon lay dying, he and Gaenor declare their love for each other and Gaenor climbs into bed with him. She awakens the next morning to see that Solomon has died and cries out in grief. Shortly after, Gaenor gives birth to their baby. Along with her father, Gaenor takes Solomon's casket to be buried. They pass by Crad, who climbs onto the cart next to the casket.



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