A 90-year-old woman, rapidly losing her memory and knowing that sooner or later her life will be over, returns to the Manitoba farmhouse she grew up in to try and make peace with her dysfunctional family.
A massage therapist is unable to do her job when stricken with a mysterious and sudden aversion to bodily contact. Meanwhile, her uptight brother's floundering dental practice receives new life when clients seek out his healing touch.
Wilby is the name of a small island in the Canadian Maritimes and the name of the main town located on the island. According to residents, there are two types of people who live on Wilby: islanders (people who were born on Wilby) and non-islanders. Among the townsfolk of Wilby are: single mom and recently returned islander Sandra Anderson, who was known as the girl in town with the reputation, something that has not changed in her adult years; Sandra's teen-aged daughter, Emily, who doesn't want to end up like her mother but can only think about making out with her new boyfriend; Buddy French, the local police officer who is having unspoken marital problems with his non-islander wife, Carol, the town realtor whose controlling behavior is pushing her and others around her on the verge of a nervous breakdown; the Mayor, Brent Fisher, who is secretly planning for his life post politics; dyslexic Duck McDonald, the town handyman; and recently separated non-islander Dan Jarvis who, because... Written by
The best thing this has going for it is the mood. The quiet evocation of a small island/town is pretty much dead on, with the slightly shabby businesses, people with small-scale ambitions, and hidden strings connecting everyone and everything. There are also some excellent performances, especially Sandra Oh, Rebecca Jenkins, and Callum Keith Rennie (for once showing his awkward, charming side rather than playing another psychopath).
There's both too much and too little going on, if that's possible. The various plot threads wander around before finally getting to what turns out to be the main plot. By that time, there have been a few too many scenes of people walking around while the soundtrack music plays. Some of the characters take too long to register, as well. The one who might be the most important, Dan Jarvis (the suicidal, soon-to-be-outed video store owner), never really registers at all--he never amounts to much of anything besides vague melancholy.
I don't blame the actors, really.....the ones we don't know well enough simply haven't had enough dialogue to let us know them. Fewer subplots and a little less wistful scenery montage would have helped the through-line considerably.
Put most simply, this has too much atmosphere to be a Plot Film and too much plot to be an Atmosphere Film. Not that it would ever have a chance to happen, but I think Wilby would have worked much better as a series.
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