I was disappointed. I knew nothing of the film before I saw it, and I really did hope for something enjoyable, enlightening, what have you... but I was disappointed.
I know it was made on a low budget, but the hand-held camera-work (which seems typical of many Vancouver productions) just seemed lazy. Many films were made on miniscule budgets, but it doesn't mean that planning and thought can't go into the storyboard and shooting script. Think, El Mariachi, Do The Right Thing; highly entertaining, well-planned, well-shot movies done on fairly low budgets.
That having been said, the opening sequence was nice.
But the cinematography left something to be desired. I don't know if the lack of lighting was intentional, but it just became frustrating. It just felt amateur and felt like a lot more thought could have gone into it. It has been said that the camera-work serves this story. Perhaps, but it doesn't neglect the fact that virtually zero artistry seems to have gone into the visual compositions.
But the story seemed unduly melodramatic. Some of the acting was alright, especially Grace, the lead, the priest, Jenn Copping and Ben Ratner, who is quite a cameleon when it comes to acting (see: Dirty). But other characters seemed wooden; unbelievable. It doesn't help that the story felt forced and unbelievable in itself.
The movie seemed lacking in entertainment value. The story wasn't very interesting, the underlying Christian values and the bits about Jennifer Copping becoming Christian due to Grace's rantings just seemed ridiculous. Especially because Copping's character seemed so thoughtful and level-headed, that for her to simply switch and buy into all of the religious ramblings from somebody suffering from schizophrenia seemed a bit absurd.
I think Canadian film-making has potential. This film, despite my dissing, also seems like it could have had potential. I'm always intrigued by the films that come out of Canada, even if many tend to have a strange, dark vibe. Some really great movies have come out of Canada, such as The Sweet Hereafter and I heard the Mermaids Singing, Cronenberg's films and so on, but in order to a film to reach the point of greatness, it really takes a lot of time and thought and working and reworking the script and story until it truly resonates. I understand the film was the result of five years work. That seems pretty hard to believe, considering the result, and I don't see how a product like this could emerge after five years of thinking and planning. It seems like more thought should and could have gone into storyboard, acting choices, and the quality of the script in that time.
A film can have personal relevance for those involved and come from a passionate engagement with the material, but those elements have to translate to the screen. The audience should come away feeling enlightened AND entertained, if the film has succeeded at all. Many many films have accomplished that. Not that it's an easy task, but it is possible.
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