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William, a once obese and troubled teen, goes back to his family's home after being gone, without word, for ten years and finds it (and his family) haunted with his past. He had moved to the city and become a fit, well-adjusted gay man, but during his visit home, he becomes unhinged as the newly remembered reasons for his miserable adolescence come to life in each of their presents. Written by
Tom Hunt Brooks <email@example.com>
[sending her grandchildren off to a school dance. To granddaughter Rosemary.]
You got pockets? You carrying your protection with you?
Started when your father was young. Every party dress had to have pockets.
[fetches something from her chest-of-drawers.]
Now ... Your hands. These'll keep you safe.
[lowers a rosary into Rosemary's open hands.]
Now, you feel some of that ... that hocus-pocus comin' into your body ... you don't have to worry.
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Hanging Garden is a small, intensely felt film about a family in tatters and a son whose own problems are eclipsed until he does something he can't take back. Given the film's major conceit is a breach in family fabric that can't be woven back in, magic realism is an applicable term--but only so if shot through the caustic self-wounding humour of the Maritimes, where I lived for six years. If this seems dour, then consider the take-off marriage sequence that opens the film: drunkeness, homoeroticism, Celtic music madness and four-dozen f-words. This film is a gorgeous if painful tribute to growing up in a remove that already seems past its age, in an ocean playground whose garden has gone to seed. This film was ranked, and fairly, as the best Canadian film of 1997 by the Jay Stone of the Globe & Mail (Canada's national newspaper), and if that makes Americans laugh, then consider this is a ranking ahead of Sweet Hereafter, which only made it to the Best Director Oscar Nomination and Cannes Recognition for Atom Egoyan and was also Roger Ebert's #2 film of the year. Adulations all around are deserving for this home-grown production. The film only suffers from inexperience with some actors and having to come up with a conclusion for a tale that can't logically have one. And the parents are excellent in it too, especially the mum. At the singular, crucial sequence of the film all the elements of the film - colour, symbolism, lamentation and ladyslipperknots - fuse in breathtaking splendor, and I mean so in the inhaled gasp that graces the east coast 'yes '. It still stuns me in memoriam. Four Stars * * * *
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