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Maria del Mar,
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Lindsay and Spencer are a typical young couple, but their lives are changed forever after a violent home invasion. Now Lindsay finds herself a prisoner in her own home as her husband tortures the men responsible.
The wickedly funny story of three sisters' coming of age in a wildly dysfunctional family, set against the backdrop of the 60's, free love, the Cold War, LSD and the dawn of feminism. Affectionately dubbed "Little Women on acid", this is a story about the destructive effects of secrecy and the bonds of duty between parents and their children. Written by
Another Canadian offering at the film festival from director Scott Smith who also did indie film `rollercoaster' a few years ago. It's based on a book by Barbara Gowdy and was filmed in Saskatchewan though it takes place in Ontario. The story centers around 3 sisters in their late teens, still living at home under the imperious rule of their father, Jim. He has long since succeeded in bullying his wife, Mary, into a defeated alcoholic who spends her days in her dressing gown, staring remotely at the television and sipping whiskey from the ever present coffee cup. He continues his tyrannical reign over his daughters but the year is 1969 and things are changing. Authority is being challenged and the traditional `father rules the roost' values are being shot down left and right. The sisters are all trying to discover who they are and how to break free but are tied to the family out of duty and concern for their mother.
The family doesn't talk about secrets. They bury them and there lies a lot of the problems. There was a firstborn son that died in a `fall' over Niagara Falls and then there was a two week enforced confinement in a bomb shelter that the father built in the back yard about 10 years ago. We see this through some flash back sequences. Norma is the oldest, chubby, plain, she is the one that takes care of everyone else. She follows father's rules like a good girl yet there's a lot about herself that she won't accept. Lou is the middle smart mouthed daughter, bent on rebellion. She sees her father with other women, she hangs out with a new boy in school, riding in his van, smoking dope. She hates her father and loves yet has contempt for her mother's weakness. Sandy is the youngest, blonde, pretty and sweet looking and seems attached to her mother. Sandy sews her own clothes, high necklines, ruffles and peter pan collars but wears a ton of makeup and has no compunction about starting up an affair with a married man of her father's age. It certainly doesn't seem to be her first time either.
The movie starts off showing the mother in a coffin and the father drunkenly lurching into the funeral parlour. The rest of the movie retraces the steps that lead up to the mother's death on New Year's Eve. The actors are all very believable in their roles. Miranda Richardson plays the remote mother, so immersed in apathy and alcohol that she can't even react to anything in her daughters' lives though she does show glimpses of not being as oblivious as we might think she is. The flashbacks in the bomb shelter show her a little more spirited than she is now but the destruction of her self esteem has already begun. Callum Keith Rennie plays the bully control freak father with just the right balance of domination, control and a glimmer of insecurity and affection for his family that does lurk under the surface. Katharine Isabelle plays Lou, she was also in Ginger Snaps and she's terrific.
The director stayed after the movie for a few questions and when asked where he got all the `stuff', the houses and props and cars, replied `We filmed it in Saskatchewan!' implying Sask. was stuck in the past. Made the audience chuckle. Wherever and however they got all the props, they did a great job. The whole style of the movie was SO 1960's Canada as I remember it right down to the coffee cups, the turquoise blue paint in the kitchen and the wood paneling and stripey tweed carpet in the rec room. The clothes had me in flashbacks as well. The ending was a bit ambiguous but it comes down to whether the girls will reject or stick by their father in spite of everything. Again, I can't see it being everyone's taste but if you like Indie films, you should see it. Canadian films have come a long way but you know, you can still pick one out of the crowd. There's just a certain atmosphere and I think that comes from the fact that most of them are made with independent money and means and don't have the gloss and high budgets that Hollywood movies have. There are good actors, both Canadian and from other countries. The writing is getting better as well but there is just always something quintessentially Canadian about them, this one included.
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