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 young boy working in Nova Scotia's treacherous coal mines in the beginning of the 20th century, finds a friend in a pony, one of the ponies used to haul coal up from the tunnels to be used at the railway and steel mill.
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
What a little Life-Affirming gem this is; if it does nothing else, it leaves you with Hope. Performances are everything in a film of this nature....and, here, not one of them lets you down. These guys and gals 'put out' for us what the multi-millionaire, cookie-cutter stars of Hollywood quite often do not. So, just a comment or two concerning them and/or their characterizations:
= Sandra Oh---Gee whiz, where has she dropped out of? If you're a fan of hers from TV's "Grey's Anatomy," you ain't seen nothing yet. Till you see her here, that is. Can there be any wonder why she won a 2006 Golden Globe award?
= Paul Gross---Playing the 'almost' disillusioned husband and the oh-so-wise town policeman, he sneaks in under our radar and becomes 1 of 2 main axles keeping the town of Wilby rolling along. He's, simply, one of those types with a mission to do the right thing.
= Rebecca Jenkins & Ellen Page---Being mother and daughter, they bring us right into and under their skins (what tremendous performances).
= James Allodi---As one of "life's saddest", he gives us 2 instants on film when we see appear, in the lifeless eyes of a benumbed man undergoing both marriage breakup and devastating lifestyle change, 2 sparks of "Realization" (the first instant being a scarily breathtaking moment for us; the second a joyous one---you'll easily recognize them both).
= Callum Keith Rennie---If Allodi's 'Dan' is the one begging redemption in this movie (its "Life-Loss" so to speak), then Rennie is its "Life Spark." Aside from the town policeman, no other is as sensitive to everyone else and their needs as is 'Duck MacDonald' (to be stable, a vehicle needs at least 2 axles; Duck is this town's other). He is amazing in his perceptiveness...his caring...his persistence in landing who he knows to be the "love of his life." Showing my partiality (and preferences, I guess) I only wish that every film of a lighter, romantic nature (containing gay aspects, or not), had a Callum Keith Rennie.
Lastly, what Great and Uplifting closing moments we have been given: ...The Depth of Feeling and the Emotional Intensity reached in the final scene's pairing is palpable, almost overwhelming....perfectly capping a little--but monumental--film belonging in every movie lover's collection.
PS: In its release year, if any film would have been worthy of consideration for one of the several "Best Ensemble Acting" awards, this film certainly should have been foremost (I didn't find the multi-cast acting in the recently awarded "Crash" to be of any higher caliber).
PPS: You may learn more about this film by visiting its releaser: filmmovement.com
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