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Canadian director Bruce McDonald hasn't released a film since his 1996 cult classic, Hard Core Logo. He went through a series of jobs directing for television, followed by 2001's effort at a big budget film-noir, Picture Claire. The movie never saw the light of day.
Now, three years later, he makes his return with the Love Crimes of Gillian Guess, a weird comedy/action/drama/animation and at times, yes, a musical. About halfway through the film I underwent strong sensations of deja vu. I realized I had seen this movie before. A decade ago when it was called Natural Born Killers.
No, I shouldn't be too hard on this film. It is one of a kind. However it borrows from NBK's tone and style. It is based (but not really) on Canadian media sensation Gillian Guess. A bodacious, blonde juror who had an affair with the suspect on trial, an Indo-Canadian gangster. In real life, she claimed it was love. In this movie, it's all part of her lusty attraction to young hard bodies. Her nymphomania is impulsive, irresistible, and consistently funny.
Visually, Bruce McDonald is on top of his game. Each shot has been carefully chosen. Each scene filmed in its own unique way in accordance to the tone set in that moment. Flashbacks. Flashforwards. Commercial breaks. Cartoons. It tells a story that was made-for-TV in a made-for-cinematic fashion. However, regardless of its daringly original execution, nothing could save this script.
The movie does not know what it wants to be. At first it relies on flashbacks to develop characters, and then the entire third act becomes one big flashback that tells us nothing about the story. The screenwriter, Angus Fraser (Kissed, 1996) tries to wind in irrelevant moments in a far past. Moments that have little or no merit to the actual story. These flashbacks try to serve as insight into Gillian Guess, her character, her mentality. But it only serves to squash the fun and humor that was this film when it began.
The laughs are lost. The melodrama seeps in. And with just 10 minutes left, seats began to empty out and the man next to me began to snore. It became impossible for this film to climb out of its own grave. Bruce McDonald may have the tenacity to take on such a challenging story, but nothing could resurrect this back to life. Only the writer and, with a little restructuring, the editor.
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