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Brian J. Smith
The Bay of Love and Sorrows is a haunting modern tragedy set on the rural shores of New Brunswick's Bay of Miramichi. In late summer 1973, Michael Skid, the son of a well-to-do judge, returns home and rents a dilapidated farm. He begins to spread the gospel of communal ideals, which he has absorbed during his travels in India. His new worldliness and ideas go over well with impoverished siblings Madonna and Silver Brassaurd and the hopelessly naïve Carrie. They go over less well with Tom Donnerel, a young farmer and Carrie's fiancé. Wounded by Tom's derision, Michael befriends ex-convict Everette Hatch, who, recognizing opportunity, exploits Michael's ideas to his advantage. Believing himself capable of understanding people from the other side of the track, Michael fails to recognize that the ex-con is manipulating him and so sets off a catastrophic chain of events in the community. Written by
I never heard of "The Bay of Love and Sorrows," an independent Canadian film from 2002, but I found the cover of the DVD and the title very intriguing. So I picked it up, and am glad I did, as this is a quality drama.
The story involves a group of mostly young adults on the desolate shores of New Brunswick in 1973. All of them are working-class except for the naïve-but-charismatic Michael. Michael just got back from India where he learned of communal living concepts. His ideas are embraced by the nigh-impoverished group, with the exception of Tom, a solemn young farmer, whose naïve fiancé takes a liking to Michael. The group foolishly shares these ideals with ex-con Everette, who naturally takes advantage of the situation, not just because he's an ex-con, but because he's older and recognizes the naiveté of the youths. Caught in the wheels of manipulation, paranoia and misunderstanding, the situation spins out of control.
Although the cast are no-names (which makes no difference to me), the acting is excellent throughout. One reviewer complained about how the characters are constantly smoking, but the film takes place in 1973 and this is a group of mostly destitute youths. With the exception of the hardened con-man Everette, they're not necessarily bad people, just lost and spiritually bereft.
The film leaves you with questions: Why does the winsome and well-to-do Michael hang with this destitute group from the other side of the tracks? Perhaps because his high pedigree makes him an instant celebrity, which attracts Carrie and provokes envious hostility in Tom.
The film was shot in Cocagne, Canada, on the lonely shores of New Brunswick, straight across from Prince Edward Island, although the story evidently takes place in Newcastle, near Miramichi Bay, about an hour's drive north. The landscapes are sometimes scenic, but mostly desolate and somehow haunting. Speaking of which, the low-key but haunting score is fitting.
If you appreciate realistic rural dramas like "Undertow" (2004), "Snow Angels" (2007), "Frozen River" (2008) and "Days of Heaven" (1978), films that depict the mundane reality of underprivileged youths in rural America and potential tragedy, be sure to put "The Bay of Love and Sorrow" on your viewing list. ("Frozen River" doesn't necessarily involve all youths, but it generally fits that description).
The film runs 94 minutes.
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