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In 1947 Whitbourne, Newfoundland, Alan Hepditch, a by-the-books but squeamish and somewhat dimwitted criminologist (whose specialty is fingerprinting) and candidate for ranger, is constantly being tormented by his fellow ranger candidates and his sergeant, Bill O'Mara. This torment makes him hate his training. Before Hepditch can quit, O'Mara, as a sort of punishment, assigns him to his first posting at Swyer's Harbour, where five sheep mutilations have taken place over the past year. When he arrives in Swyer's Harbour, Hepditch has a more serious crime to investigate, that of the murder of a local, mentally slow woman named Tryphenia Maud Pottle, better known to the locals as Young Triffie, whose dead body was found on the beach. When O'Mara finds out about the murder, he decides to send Rangers Jenkins and Guzzwell to Swyer's Harbour to replace Hepditch. Hepditch has thirty-six hours before his replacements' arrival, during which time he sets out to prove himself and prove O'Mara ... Written by
Part of the movie takes place in Whitbourne, Newfoundland. Whenever they showed Whitbourne, with the name under it, it was a typical Newfoundland out-port community, complete with wharf and a view of the ocean. However, Whitbourne is known as Newfoundland's first inland community. The only body of water around Whitbourne is a small pond. See more »
Young Triffie is darkly-themed, even for a black comedy. There is little graphic violence, but in addition to a girl's death prepare to stomach alcoholism, drug addiction, child abuse, madness and worse. Strangely, there is also a lot of humour. In that department Mary Walsh gives the film's greatest laughs as the brash, gossipy and all-knowing postmistress. Still, the film is too heavy to be a lighthearted romp.
The plot is fairly well-constructed. It is more compelling than the murder plot in "Bon Cop Bad Cop", another Canadian film with fish out of water. Ranger Alan Hepditch (Fred Ewanuick) is an Ichabod Crane-like misfit who is the laughing stock of the Newfoundland rangers. He is sent away to Swyers' Harbour, ostensibly to investigate mysterious sheep attacks. In fact his smarmy Sargeant (Colin Mochrie) simply wants him out of the way. However, just before he arrives a local girl's body is found washed up on the beach and Hepditch is the only lawman in town.
Gradually Hepditch fumbles and stumbles his way through the mystery guided (and sometimes misguided) by the predictably colourful townspeople. These include the local doctor(Rémy Girard), his wife(Andrea Martin), a young admirer of the deceased (Jonny Harris), a menacing pastor (Andy Jones) and the leader of a militant Ladies Auxillary (fellow CODCO veteran Cathy Jones).
Overall I enjoyed this offbeat film. However I think it would have been better if so many depressing elements were not piled one on top of another. Sometimes I felt a lingering sadness that interfered with the comic relief scenes that followed. Like my fellow poster, I felt the cartoon and black and white scenes were unnecessary. If you are willing to put up with the flaws that I have mentioned, Young Triffie has a passable story and some good laughs.
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