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|Index||13 reviews in total|
This unmistakably Canadian film is a fantastic first feature effort by
Mark A. Lewis. I can't wait to see what he does next. The film features
consistently breathtaking framing with a lot of "big sky" that reminds
me of Howard Hawks. There is a lot of attention paid to how the
audience will relate to the characters through the lens.
The writing is very strong. I recently worked with John Callander on my first short film and he's equally impressive as both actor and writer.
Paul Campbell's performance as Jimmy is terrific. The entire team behind Ill Fated is worth watching closely. I have a feeling that most of them are only at the beginnings of what will be incredible careers.
I've read a couple reviews. One was good and seemed to get it but the other was terrible - and in my mind way off base. The reviewer took the drama way too seriously instead of enjoying the vibrancy of the film and how *beeped* up this guy's situation is. I thought the film was hilarious. And refreshing in how the filmmakers broke the mold of a typical Canadian film. I like Canadian films but this one was ballsy; took a hyper-real approach... which I think is great. Think Fellini in backwater Canada. Historically, critics have always had trouble appreciating films that deviate from realism. The reason for this I think is that they're... critiquing. When a film is expressed through impressions of ideas or feelings (from surrealism to absurdism), the aesthetic can only be experienced through, for lack of a better word, feeling. The greatest filmmakers have fallen victim to this pitfall (from Fellini to Powell/Pressburger, to Kubrick and Wes Anderson). But regardless, it's the test of time that proves the worth of little films like this. We'll have to wait and see.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Watched this film at the Filmstock festival in Luton, UK.
Visually it looked good - the rural landscape made a beautiful backdrop but it's quite a ridiculous story that doesn't know if its a farce, a tragedy or a coming of age tale. Just read the plot summary - it's a bit ridiculous - and the blend of farcical Fargo-like antics of the characters really didn't ring true for me because the characters didn't seem so interesting as those in Fargo. It was hard to empathise with any of them, not only because they were all a bit f**ked up in their own way (except Jimmy's fat friend Clayton who I did warm to!), but because they weren't very well drawn as characters.
In my opinion, this film also suffered from using a few too many well worn stereotypes. Jimmy feels trapped in the isolated rural community (peppered with "colourful" characters and redneck weirdos) in which he lives - as he sits fishing with his simple-minded friends he toys with the idea of running away to the big city and maybe going to college. So far, so typical. However, events conspire against him and begin to threaten his freedom and possible escape. His girlfriend Barb is included as one of these complications as she announces she is pregnant with his baby.
It is the character of Barb that really troubled me. Teenager Barb has her own problems - she is also trapped in the small town with a violent father, a dumb ass brother, no hopes for the future and an accidental pregnancy to deal with. I'd say her situation is 100 times worse than Jimmy's, but her story doesn't really get explored enough. Instead the film generally shapes her as an alluring but whining girl who becomes the stereotypical nagging female trying to trap her man and limit his freedom with her demands. Are we meant to sympathise with Jimmy when he's about to run away from her and his responsibilities? Jimmy has certainly earned some of his father Earl's weaknesses and his propensity for running away from his problems. Both Jimmy and Barb are as "ill fated" as each other, but where the film allows Jimmy the potential for escape and education, it does not allow Barb the same possibilities.
When Barb kills herself in the final denouement I felt that this was just a too convenient way to get rid of the complications in Jimmy's life so that he can make a fresh start. While Jan was indeed in a hopeless situation, no one mourns her death at the end - instead we just see Jimmy looking towards a potentially bright future, despite the pain he's helped to cause. This was an unsatisfying ending to a rather flawed film that couldn't decide what it wanted to be and ultimately ended up a bit of a mess.
I think "scott_lewis" (other viewer) should take another look at the ending. Not sure what they are referring to... and it wasn't as though the ending was ambiguous. The majority of the characters run off screen, chasing Earl down the hill in what is a terrific finale. All the characters except for Jimmy, Barb and Jennifer... when something horrific happens - but not in the way that the above writer thinks. I won't ruin it because it is a bit of a surprise... although in retrospect, inevitable. It's a hard ending, but necessary. And it really does tie everything together... particularly thematically. One of the main characters runs from the sins of his past (something I think most people can relate to, at least to a certain extent), however, this character experiences the consequences of his actions to an extreme... but this is storytelling... conveying poignant messages but in an exaggerated, dramatic, and, ultimately, entertaining way. By the way, I am a friend of someone who was involved in this film... but truly believe the above to be true.
Immediately reminiscent of Coen brother's "Fargo". Humorous and entertaining in a way that doesn't take the audience to be halfwits. John Parker's role as Grampy was inspired and his "meltdown" was hilarious. My personal favourite character was the sheriff. His constant frustration with the townspeople and his volunteers made for constant laughs. Finally a film that Canadians can be proud to call their own. Mark Lewis has set himself a very high standard. I hope he can continue to bring us great films up to par with his first.
I gave this film a 9... and I've also given a 9 to The Godfather, Dr. Strangelove, Pulp Fiction etc. Ill Fated is not as good as the aforementioned films... however, after seeing the film I felt just as satisfied as after watching the others. I was just so delighted to see a Canadian film so bloody entertaining and simultaneously so very profound. I've never been witness to an audience so moved by a Canadian film in all my life (and I've seen many - too many - Canadian films). This film won't make 100 million at the box office, but like Donnie Darko or Reservoir Dogs, Clerks etc. will inevitably find a huge audience (slowly but surely). I expect big things from the talent behind this one.
Quirky and offbeat would be the best way to describe this story of a
small town 19 year-old struggling to find his way in the midst of even
smaller small town personalities.
Some of the characters in the rural setting are way over the top, but it works, as they're supposed to be embellished caricatures of hicks. The performances that stood out the most are that of the lead, Paul Campbell, known mostly for his work on the new Battlestar Galactica, his character's quirky grandfather played by John F. Parker, and in a very minor but memorable role the local police officer who spends much of the film completely flabbergasted at the stupidity of the local bunch to which he seemingly belongs.
This is a movie that definitely does not take itself too seriously, nor should the viewer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm a regular viewer of bad Canadian movies, but this one takes the
First, some of the usual suspects are involved: this time Telefilm Canada (who usually have slightly better standards than this) and some BC film credits or some such thing. I still believe that if a movie is worth making, it will find funding without sucking on the government teat. (And I'm a liberal).
Second, once again the location is vague. Car license plates show no jurisdiction, so you have to guess. Where is Reno? Is it the small hamlet of 13 people in Alberta? Probably not. More than likely they mean the one everyone else means, in Nevada. But nobody has a passport. How are they getting there? I think if a film is going to take Canadian taxpayer money, or have their taxes reduced (same thing) then the film should be clearly set in Canada.
So why is a Canadian boy wanting to escape to Reno, Nevada? Why not Vancouver? Or Edmonton? Or Winnipeg? And who is that old prospector? Are we supposed to be in California?
OK, so the setting is confused. What about the story? I never was able to follow it. People come and go. It's like an ensemble film without the ensemble. But even then, I was able to guess the secret twist ending, or at least the first half of the twist.
I was going to give this film a 6 up to that point, for being a mostly boring closet-Canadian movie as usual, but at least having a funny non-conformist ending, maybe saying something about social mores, which is a lofty goal for such a weak movie.
But, the female characters are treated with such disdain in this story, that the only recourse its creators give is for the young mother to end her pregnancy by killing herself. It's a revoltingly judgemental ending, like something out of the 50s. You almost expect a narrator to begin warning us on the dangers of premarital sex, "because you never know who that other person might be" (dramatic music to follow).
There were several better options: * get an abortion * have the child anyway * shoot the father * shoot HIS father
A last hint to casting: if the actors are going to be showing skin, it helps if they are at least moderately good-looking.
Well, anyway, that's another 100 minutes of my life I'm not getting back. Thanks, folks.
This movie was cleverly written, every scene has something to say either with words, background or props. The characters were hilarious. The acting was great. I think people that watch this movie and "get it", are more intelligent than those that didn't get it, or they despise Tragic Comedy. For those who found the movie confusing or bad...you weren't paying enough attention, give it another shot. The DOP was brilliant, which makes for some awe-inspiring shots (shot outside Kamploops, BC during their big fire a few years ago). I am proud to say this is a great Canadian movie and look forward to seeing more from Mark Lewis and John Callander. I would be honoured to be a part of any of their upcoming projects in the future. If you're lucky enough to rent a copy of Illfated, which is never in, laugh and enjoy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Another solid and entertaining effort from an impressive Canadian film
scene, and it certainly isn't humiliating to any 'canucks.' Deliciously
dark humour runs throughout the movie punctuated by the wonderful
scenery around. The main character is bemused all the way through by
the bizarre antics of the small minded folks he has to patiently
survive around him.
The character of Barb is really well acted, as is the character Earl - who just can't keep his dick in his pants and the horrifically funny ending is perfectly placed. There are some flaws and failings such as the completely over the top Grandpa and a viewer must wonder whether Barb would really put up with the violent idiot stepfather for so long.
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