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 ... See full summary »
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[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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I'd seen portions of this film on TV when I was about 12, and it frightened me -- I thought it a perversely arousing horror film. Watching it now, I see that it's actually a pretty smartly made literary piece about a family (I could only remember the disturbing images indicated by the film's title). It does have its share of comedy -- there's a lightness in tone that comes mainly from the profuse swearing of the Maritime newlywed (Kerry Fox) who takes part in one of the more awkward marriage processions in recent memory (which also features Ashley MacIsaac on fiddle), and whose marriage instigates the return of her ten-years-gone brother, William. The telling of the film is centered around three tenses of William's life -- his childhood memories, his fat teenage years, and his current appearance -- which are cut up, rearranged, and presented to us, though the unique thing is that Fitzgerald chooses also to surreally intersperse them together into the present one: our current William sees his young self using food as a comfort, and he sees his teen self leave behind his obese body in favor of his current slim frame.
I liked the way that Fitzgerald chose to tackle the mind's abstract identity in this very literal way and I think it makes the film more interesting than its abusive-father/thoughtful-mother family drama otherwise would be. There are some nice touches in the film, like William's apparent young sister who he seems to have swapped gender roles with, and there are some really clever scenes like the one where the current William rushes to help his father -- and his father seeing that his grown son has been playing dress-up; or the scene where his mother has to listen to her son's first sexual experience with a woman. The performances are uniformly good for the film's intent, but Sarah Polley stands out as doing something beyond what's merely required. 8/10
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