Wilby Wonderful (2004) Poster

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Can anyone give me a road map to this town???
arizona-philm-phan16 March 2006
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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Review from the 2004 TIFF
riid13 September 2004
I saw this film at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival.

Wilby Wonderful is the latest film from director, writer, playwright, and actor Daniel MacIvor. Set in a small island town, the film follows a cast of characters (played by a veritable who's who of Canadian cinema) over the course of a single day.

There is the woman who grew up in Wilby, moved away, and returned with her teenaged daughter to reopen a cafe (Rebecca Jenkins and Ellen Page, who previously worked together on the MacIvor-penned Marion Bridge). There is one of the town's police officers (Paul Gross), and his businesswoman wife (Sandra Oh), who find themselves in a marriage that has drifted apart. There is the town mayor, played by Maury Chaykin, and a dyslexic painter, played by Callum Keith Rennie. And finally, there is a video store owner (James Allodi), who spends much of the movie making ineffectual attempts to commit suicide. Lurking under it all is a scandal that will affect them all.

The film takes a look at the connections between the people in a small town, their hopes and dreams (both realized and not), and their prejudices. It shows people trying to both discover new, and recapture lost, feelings. As Paul Gross' character puts it while standing on the shore, looking at the mainland: seeing where you came from lets you remember what you wanted for the future.

I really enjoyed this movie, my one Canadian pick for the festival this year. The cast acquits themselves well, and despite the relatively large number of characters, I didn't feel like I was distracted by too many story lines, or that any one character received more attention than the others. And despite the limited timeframe of the movie, a single day, the story did not feel rushed or hurried. I thought the resolutions found or not found by the characters followed from what was seen and felt on screen, and didn't come out of the blue.

Daniel MacIvor, along with pretty much the entire cast, attended the screening. MacIvor gave quite an entertaining introduction before the film and stayed afterwards for a Q&A session:

  • MacIvor calls the film a "Canadian commercial film", and wanted it to be familiar, but with a twist to wake everyone up.


  • The story took about three years to make it to the screen, starting from around New Year's Eve 2001 at a party of Canadian director Jeremy Podeswa.


  • MacIvor wanted to write a "guy with a heart story" rather than his usual fare.


  • The movie was originally to be called Honey, but then the Jessica Alba movie of the same name came out, which necessitated a change. This lead to the current title, which affected part of the story.


  • MacIvor said the theater (and the movie) contained pretty much every famous Canadian actor, assuming Don McKellar and Sarah Polley were in the room (not sure about Polley, but I did see McKellar talking with the cast outside the theatre prior to the showing). He found it weirdly easy to get the cast he wanted, helped by being able to tell people that he wrote specific parts for them.


  • MacIvor was asked if writing for a wide range of characters was harder than writing for a few. His response was that he wanted to learn how, and figured there was no better way than to try. He was worried that the audience might attach themselves to a specific storyline and spend much of the movie waiting to get back to their favoured plot, but those fears were dispelled by the excellent acting of the cast.


  • Because the film is set during the course of a single day, editing and continuity is harder.


  • MacIvor was asked if he is now favouring films over plays or vice-versa. He said he isn't favouring either, and is currently working on both a new play and a new screenplay. Asked about the difference between the two , he said that what he doesn't like about films (vs. writing plays) is that once a film is complete, he can't change it.


  • When starting to write, things for the stage tend to start out post-modern; but for a movie, it is usually an idea about watching somebody.


  • About the differences between film and theatre, he likes to use the quote, "it's not apples and oranges or cats and dogs, it's apples and dogs", they're completely different. He likes to think from the theatre background he's able to bring a collaborative, inclusive feeling to the set. Art in theatre is live in front of the audience, whereas in film it is light projected on a flat surface and the art has happened previously.


  • As a writer, he finds that sometimes for film he writes too much.


  • Asked about writing specifically Canadian stories, he said that while he has made a commitment to stay in Canada and more specifically, in Nova Scotia, he likes to keep stories open so that people do not focus on watching a story about a specific group (islanders, easterners, Canadians, etc).
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8/10
Gay stigma, suicide, teen sex, public corruption, cheating, ambition: just life in your average small town
roland-1044 December 2005
This web-of-life drama with a dark comedic edge takes place in a small town on the fictional island of Wilby, somewhere off the coast of Nova Scotia. Here we get to know quite a few people, beginning with Dan Jarvis (James Allodi), a video store owner whose wife has just left him. His exquisite despair, agitation and dead serious suicidal impulses are occasioned not only by this loss but, more fundamentally, by the fact that he is being exposed, against his wishes, as a gay man, not a social status often sought in this tight little conservative village.

Jarvis's forced "outing" is part of a more sweeping attack on regular gatherings of homosexuals and drug users at a waterfront park. Turns out that developers are behind the exposes. They're almost drooling in anticipation of establishing a destination golf club with surrounding upscale houses on the now public park land, once they succeed in convincing the townsfolk that the only sure way to keep unsavory characters from corrupting their young people and way of life is to get rid of that park, i.e., by selling it to them, and for a song at that.

We also meet Buddy French (Paul Gross), a straight arrow local cop, and his tightly wound wife Carol (Sandra Oh), who has gotten herself into a chronic dither chasing brass rings in the world of real estate sales. Then there is Sandy Anderson (Rebecca Jenkins), the faded sex queen and mother of teenage daughter Emily (Ellen Page), whom Sandy worries will follow in her own pathetic footsteps.

Rounding out the group of major players in this drama are Wilby's Mayor, Brent Fisher (Maury Chaykin), whose porcine joviality seems overdone, perhaps to cover less seemly activities, and the pivotal character Duck MacDonald (Callum Keith Rennie), an Everyman clad perpetually in overalls, whose gentle manner and near omnipresence suggest that he's a sort of guardian angel placed among these humans to bail them out of trouble. In smaller roles, there's also Irene (Mary Ellen MacLean), a first rate gossip, and Buddy's police partner, Stan (played by the film's writer-director, Daniel McIvor), whose conduct is sometimes nefarious.

I take the trouble to mention all of these people because the film is really more a series of character sketches than a narrative, and because the acting is, with perhaps one exception, uniformly fine. For some viewers, the exception may be Sandra Oh's over-the-top frenzied behavior during much of the film, though certainly there are ambitious control freaks out there in the real world who carry on like she does. (Incidentally, the beauty of Ms. Oh's face is captured stunningly here by DP Rudolf Blahacek, especially in profile in a scene shot while she is driving.)

Some viewers might also wonder whether James Allodi's compulsive suicidal behavior as the deeply suffering Dan Jarvis is also over the top. He keeps making good faith efforts to end his life that are thwarted, sometimes in ways that make you laugh even when your intentions are otherwise. In this darkly funny depiction, MacIvor seems to have borrowed from the drollery of Bud Cort's habitual suicidal poses in "Harold and Maude."

We viewers can also easily see the pain in Jarvis's face and wonder how so many of the town citizens can fail to notice or respond to him. Fact is that in real life this is common. Often people are either too self absorbed or otherwise preoccupied to see pain in others. Or if they do, they gloss over it because they are too busy or are reluctant to intrude, to mind another person's business.

The film offers a wonderful quote from Mark Twain, delivered by Buddy French to Mayor Fisher: "Golf: A good walk ruined." "Wilby" was produced not by Canada's National Film Board, the source of so many wonderful movies from that country, but jointly by the provincial film boards of Nova Scotia and Ontario. The location for the film is actually not an island at all, but rather the town of Shelburne, pop. 2,000, on the southwest coast of the Nova Scotian mainland.) "Wilby" is unlikely to get wide U. S. distribution, and that is unfortunate, because it's a little gem of a movie. My rating: 8/10 (B+). (Seen on 11/28/05). If you'd like to read more of my reviews, send me a message for directions to my websites.
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7/10
What an unexpected pleasure
hanrahanpm28 July 2005
What an enjoyable movie. Saw it at the Stony Brook Film Festival and was disappointed to hear it has gone straight to video. With so much crap out there, there is surely a place for a movie like this. Unfortunately, there are no special effects, or in your face sex and violence. The story makes sense, the loose ends are tied up and the characters are real. In fact, one of the few known faces, to me, was Sandra Oh and she was nearly a distraction, because she is so familiar. Everyone else seemed more real. This movie was made by the same guy who made "Marion Bridge" another Canadian movie set in Cape Breton and starring, if that's the right word, the delightful Molly Parker. Bravo John McIvor and everyone involved in this thoroughly entertaining movie. You'd have been pleased at the ovation at the end of the screening.
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8/10
Islanders
jotix10012 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Living in a small island where everyone seems to know everyone else, has its own rewards. It takes a certain type of person to enjoy that environment. The people of Wilby, a remote island off the Canadian mainland, are going through a dark period as there are cries how the gays have been gathering at the Watch, a remote area to do evil things, among other things. Some small minded islanders are crying foul, but is it really that bad?

We are first introduced to Dan Jarvis, a closeted man, who is trying to kill himself. Whatever he tries to do, backfires on him. The chief of police, Buddy French, has a problem, Sandra Anderson, a girl he liked when he was younger, has come back to the island to settle down. Sandra wants to renew a love affair that has died long time ago. Emily, Sandra's daughter, sneaks to meet her boyfriend, who is making sexual demands of her. Buddy's wife, Carol, an uptight and driven real estate agent, wants to sell Dan's house to Mayor Fisher. Carol finds fault with the signs Duck MacDonald has done to promote a festival.

All those trivial everyday life's moments in a small town are perfectly captured in this surprising comedy that has a bittersweet take on the island and the characters that we get to meet. The people in the story seem real. Nothing much happens in this island, yet, a lot of important things change the people we meet in a positive way.

Daniel MacIvor has written and directed a delightful film which proves to be a delightful surprise. His screen play shows the easy pace and complicated lives in the small community where nothing seems to happen, yet, a lot goes on under its calm exterior. Mr. MacIvor has gotten a great ensemble performance from all the actors that appear in the film. Haven't we met people like the ones in the movie before?

Sandra Oh, a wonderful actress, clearly shows her range the way she plays Carol French, a woman more interested in making a sale than calling an ambulance when she rescues Dan from a sure death. Rebecca Jenkins and Ellen Page, play Sandra and Emily with great ease. Their scenes together are marvelous. James Allodi's Dan is fine; he is never a caricature of a tormented man who can't see clearly. Paul Gross makes a good impression as the police chief. Callum Keith Rennie is excellent as the even tempered Duck.

"Wilby Wonderful" deserved a much better fate than what it probably received. This is Canadian cinema at its best. Thanks to the talented Daniel MacIvor for sharing with us this intimate portrait of an island and its people.
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9/10
What I Love About Canadian Film
gweatherford10 July 2005
Maybe it is just that I am a Californian and not a Canadian, but as an outsider, I have often loved Canadian Film. This is a prime example of what many Canadians seem to do that most US directors do not: take time to tell a story, not be afraid to show the dark side of characters, and trust actors to so what they do best.

I saw this film at OUTFEST, and was moved by a gay film that puts homosexuality in context: all the main characters of this film seek love and validation. All do it in different ways. All feel that they have been untrue to themselves, somehow, in this search for love. All seem to feel somehow thwarted by their past (or maybe, in the case of Sandra Oh's character, the most recent past), as well, in this hunt. The struggle of gay people to receive respect AND the love they deserve has been placed squarely into a larger context (we all have this same struggle for identity and validation); and I love this aspect of the film.

The film revolves around a few main characters: the man who comically tries to kill himself over and over, only to be interrupted at the most (in)opportune times; the painter who stalks him throughout the film, but who may also be his only chance at love; the real estate agent and her cop husband whose ideals have somehow drifted apart; and a hometown girl who has recently returned to town with her adolescent (and sexually coveted daughter, perhaps returning because of her sexual antics everywhere else they have lived. While each of these characters is certainly a "type," and has their moment of stereotypical comic relief, I was impressed at how director Daniel MacIvor showed the roots in reality for each stereotype, and allowed each Jungian type to have depth and a moment that ran against expectation.

The cast, as well, was fabulous. Sandra Oh is amazing at playing a together woman with another side. Rebecca Jenkins showed real sorrow beneath smuttiness. Even the actors playing the gay characters had moments of real transcendence, even though the suffering man in the closet and the lonely man chasing him theme has been played out before.

People walked out of this screening, so the film is obviously not for everyone. For me, however, it was a true tribute to the underlying humanity that brings messed up people together for the highest good.
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6/10
Underwritten
budikavlan18 April 2005
The best thing this has going for it is the mood. The quiet evocation of a small island/town is pretty much dead on, with the slightly shabby businesses, people with small-scale ambitions, and hidden strings connecting everyone and everything. There are also some excellent performances, especially Sandra Oh, Rebecca Jenkins, and Callum Keith Rennie (for once showing his awkward, charming side rather than playing another psychopath).

There's both too much and too little going on, if that's possible. The various plot threads wander around before finally getting to what turns out to be the main plot. By that time, there have been a few too many scenes of people walking around while the soundtrack music plays. Some of the characters take too long to register, as well. The one who might be the most important, Dan Jarvis (the suicidal, soon-to-be-outed video store owner), never really registers at all--he never amounts to much of anything besides vague melancholy.

I don't blame the actors, really.....the ones we don't know well enough simply haven't had enough dialogue to let us know them. Fewer subplots and a little less wistful scenery montage would have helped the through-line considerably.

Put most simply, this has too much atmosphere to be a Plot Film and too much plot to be an Atmosphere Film. Not that it would ever have a chance to happen, but I think Wilby would have worked much better as a series.
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9/10
skeletons of a small town
freakyfreak0517 February 2005
Every one strays from the path of being a descent human being. we all have our own way of coping with life. where ever a person can hide, not to take responsibility for their lives. or compensate through being a workaholic, promiscuous, chasing money, or finding a mate to validate ourselves when we feel lonely etc...etc. people can complicate a glass of water. and so are the characters in this story. each one is their own worst enemy (arent we all) in this slice of wilby history. it's decision making time in wilby wonderful. am i going to continue avoiding the accountability of my life or am i going to change?

this film just reminds me of why i love independent, dialogue driven film. the beauty of the town isn't not to be confused with the kind of people that live there. each character was brought out into full dimension. and i was able to feel all their pain. the fact that i hated sandra oh, just means she's a great actress. if i were her husband in this film, things wouldve turned out different. my recognition for outstanding actress in this film goes to ellen page. i recommend this film to any one who is a member of the human race. i also have to thank Film Movement for delivery of this film to my home. we don't get any indies out here. if not for them, i've missed it.
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10/10
A Microcosm of Deftly Drawn Characters...and Life
gradyharp9 October 2007
A day in the life on Wilby Island, off Nova Scotia, may not sound like a resource for rich storytelling, but in the gifted hands of writer/director Daniel MacIvor and inordinately talented Canadian cast WILBY WONDERFUL penetrates more dark secrets, exposes more astray lives, and addresses more human frailties than almost all of the competition. This is independent film-making at its finest, with all of the emphasis on quality and little concern for the big budget special effects that mire so many films today.

On the little island, divided between islanders and mainlanders 'visiting', lives an array of lonely people. We are introduced to a 'cause celebre' that happened on the beach (though the facts are hazy) and investigating the scandal are police officers Buddy French (Paul Gross) and his somewhat loose cannon Stan (portrayed by MacIvor himself). Buddy's wife Carol (Sandra Oh) is a very busy real estate person, assisted by her doofus secretary Deena (Kathryn MacLellan), out to sell a home to the town mayor (Maury Chaykin) and family (Susannah Hoffman and Marcella Grimaux), and while Carol is fretting over details, her meandering husband Buddy is secreting an affair with island returnee wannabe café owner Sandra Anderson (Rebecca Jenkins), whose libidinous past negatively influences her young daughter Emily (Ellen Page) in her new physical tryst with young Taylor (Caleb Langille). And while each of these stories unfolds, the town gossip Irene (Mary Ellen MacLean) keeps her evil eye on the soon-to-be-made apparent scandal that video store owner Dan Jarvis (James Allodi), who spends the entire movie attempting variations on suicide, and town painter Duck MacDonald (Callum Keith Rennie) are to be outed as being gay. It is the strange interplay of each of these lonely, needy characters that brings brilliant focus to the tiny bit of reality that is actually heartfelt.

MacIvor and friends pull off this strange little black comedy with ease and aplomb and the film is a charmer in every way - from script to cinematography (Rudolf Blahacek) to musical score (Michael Timmins). This is a splendid little movie that deserves a very wide audience. Grady Harp
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9/10
Funny, kind and quirky
girlocelot18 September 2010
Wilby Wonderful is a generous-hearted dark comedy drama with down-to-earth characters in realistic, hum-drum, inescapable life situations. The pace of the film lets us see into the emotional lives and conflicts the characters must deal with; there's a lot of quirky humor, and lovely shots of people's faces slowly changing as their feelings catch up with their minds.

All the actors do a great job. Ellen Page is solid and appealing; Sandra Oh is heart-breaking, contained and gorgeous.

If you like off-beat stories and solid, ensemble acting you will enjoy WW - it's a lovely way to spend a while.
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8/10
A very nice and quiet film
TheLurkingFox25 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is not a film for you if you like explosions, bombs, car pursuits, guns and drug. However, if you like quiet analyzes on everyday lives, carefully done portraits and human beings, then this could be your film.

The lives of the characters are well portrayed, without obscene voyeurism. They're just your everyday people: The stressed real estate agent, the quiet divorced Policeman, the nice chap sign painter etc... But they're all unique in their own way, and this is why the film never falls into caricature.

The "scandal" that threatens to be unleashed is finally more the town's blind conservatism, the film denounces. All told with a moving music and a delicate irony, this story of crossing destinies is a must-see. Especially the love story between Duck and Dan: It is a way more realistic view on gay life in a small town than Brokeback Mountain ever was...
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8/10
A surprise
jimpowellsf4 September 2005
This movie was on a local cable channel, and I was very pleasantly surprised by it. It's called a comedy, but I see it more as a "slice of life" movie. Not really a drama, not really a comedy, but a wonderful movie that really hooked me into the characters. The story was great (and way too many movies have cruddy scripts and story lines). I, too, found that no one character got the main focus of the story and yet I wasn't hoping to find out more from everyone. What I got was just enough. The people were real, smart, and the interactions were very true to life. The only thing I would do is make the movie a bit longer (just because I liked everyone's story so much) If you get a chance to see this movie, see it. It's well worth the time.
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8/10
Full of wonderful characters
MartinHafer5 February 2008
WILBY WONDERFUL is an enjoyable and quirky film--the sort Independent film lovers will love and most others will find not particularly compelling. That's because the traditional style of film making is definitely NOT what you see here and the film is extremely hard to characterize. This doesn't bother me, as I see it as a nice "slice of life" film but some may balk because it really isn't a comedy, romance or drama--though it definitely has elements of all three genres.

Wilby Island is a small resort town near Nova Scotia. The film concerns just a few residents and their struggles. While all these characters are seriously flawed, you tend to like most of them as beneath all their crazy baggage, there are shreds of decency. Some of the struggles involve a work-a-holic woman and her forgotten husband, a gay man struggling with self hatred and a trampy single mother whose daughter is struggling with either continuing or breaking the cycle of early pregnancy and desperation.

I think all these story elements work well due to the gentleness of the film. The stories unfold slowly and with a touch of humor--helping to pull the viewer into a story that isn't filled with great excitement or action. As a result, the acting, writing and direction all are given a chance to stand out and be noticed! The only failing, and this may not bother everyone, is the music. The opening song is catchy but the voice is seriously grating. Also, several times during the film, they have little music video montages. A few films have done this in recent years and I suppose it is "hip" but to me it just looks sloppy and distracting. It really disrupted the flow and seemed like filler. Still, this isn't a big problem and the film's many positives greatly outweigh this--making this a film worth seeing if you are looking for some sort of alternative entertainment and not the typical Hollywood fare.
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8/10
quiet, well spoken, well acted
rayemoon18 July 2005
Saw it at the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

The other reviewers have really done a good job giving various views of the plot, but what no one has mentioned yet is how well silence is used in this film, and this is something I love about this movie. As much is said with subtle body language and periods of silence as is said with words. Also, it seemed to me that a good deal of the dialogue had double-meanings, which makes for good mind candy.

I would also say this is right on the border of being an art-film, but I wouldn't say it actually makes it into art-film territory.

I loved it, will watch it again, and will probably buy the DVD, although it wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny as I expected, and would recommend it to pretty much anyone who has ever enjoyed a quiet movie.
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10/10
Nobody says "sushi?" the way she does...
balazsgats23 June 2006
I fell in love with Sandra Oh by watching her acting in Wilby Wonderful. As a result, I quickly bought some 15 hours of her movies. After watching through most of my newfound treasure and about six weeks later I am still not disappointed. She's the best... I liked the movie itself almost as much as I did Sandra Oh. It is refreshing to see movies out of the Hollywood stream and Canadian cinema is on the right track to find its way to a well deserved position on the International movie scene. Having lived in the States for about ten years it was refreshing to move to Canada for a short while and the life in Toronto seemed to be more cosmopolitan and therefore more human to me than anywhere in the United States. This particular difference in question reflects through this movie as well and I enjoyed watching it the second and a third time as well.
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8/10
Worth watching!
amandamb229 April 2005
This is my first "review"! I saw this movie tonight and it's definitely worth watching! A really nice story with interesting characters. I had no idea what to expect, no real "research" before renting I thought it was an all-out comedy. While there were many funny parts... I was more impressed and interested in the various serious story lines - you like the characters and want good things for them! Sandra Oh seems to be everywhere lately (Sideways, Gray's Anatomy) and she was good in this movie as well. I have not seen much of this movie on television/etc and truthfully I'm not entirely sure where I heard about it. But I definitely recommend it! I may be biased: I'm a big Paul Gross fan anyway! =)
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7/10
Great cast makes the best of a muddled script—result, Wilby watchable…
The_late_Buddy_Ryan30 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Wilby is a fictional island off Nova Scotia, the sort of rugged, resorty place where the islanders don't always think so much of the mainlanders who come to look around and sometimes stay forever. One of the latter, embroiled in small-town scandal, has decided to end it all, but people—motel chambermaid, hyperactive realtor, inquisitive guy in overalls—keep getting in his way. This Canadian ensemble dramedy, available on streaming Netflix, doesn't make the most of its first-rate cast (Paul Gross of "Sling and Arrows," Sandra Oh, Ellen Page, the late Maury Chaykin—guess Molly Parker was already busy with "Deadwood"), and the tone is oddly inconsistent. The various subplots mix (literal) gallows humor and sitcom shtick with scenes of everyday turmoil reminiscent of "Parenthood" (especially so when jangly alt-rock swells up on the soundtrack). Cape Breton homeboy Daniel MacIvor tries to hold it all together with a goofy backstory about a victimless-crime wave and a shady land deal, but that just gets in the way of the uniformly fine performances and the few well-set-up punchlines (Rebecca Jenkins's lusty single mom hits on Duck MacDonald, the overalls guy, and quite a while later, you get why that's funny). Of the lesser-known cast members, Callum Keith Rennie does well as Duck, a nontraditional stand-in for Clarence the Angel, and Jenkins really connects, despite her underwritten character, as a storm-battered islander who's come home to start a new life. Long story short, Wilby may be wonderful, but "Wilby Wonderful" is merely watchable. (Btw—the title was originally supposed to be something else, which would have deprived wiseguy reviewers of this obvious cheap shot.) If you've never seen "Slings and Arrows," available on disk from N'flix and one of the best TV series ever, you shd def'ly give it a look…
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Nicely entertaining small Canadian film, the people of Wilby.
TxMike31 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Filmed in Nova Scotia this small independent Canadian film is set in the fictitious community of Wilby, population 4200, the main town on Wilby Island. In the dialog they occasionally make references to distinguish those who originated on the island from those who came there from outside. It is that kind of small community where everyone knows everyone else, and some get entangled in the lives of others.

There are several simultaneous stories here. One is about the town cop whose mother had just died, they need to sell her place. His wife is a real estate agent and very high strung, it seems their relationship has gone stale and needs repair.

Another is about a story about to break in the small newspaper, about an area on the island called the "watch", supposedly becoming overrun with the "bad" element, including homosexuals. One of the men in town is worried about that, and in fact we see him trying to kill himself several different times in dark comedic ways.

The town mayor is thinking of retiring soon, he seems to have a great interest in this "watch" matter, and may be illegally involved in trying to have a golf course built there.

Then there is the single mom coming back to the island to try to open the old restaurant while her teen daughter is struggling with "coming of age" as the teenage object of her affection just keeps trying to get her in the sack.

Overall a very entertaining 90 minutes, the characters are well-drawn and the acting is top-notch. I was drawn to see it because of Ellen Page (really 16), it was one of her earlier movies and she plays the teenage girl. There are other experienced actors such as Maury Chaykin (the mayor), Sandra Oh (the real estate agent), and Brit Callum Keith Rennie, who lately we have come to enjoy on the TV series "The Firm".
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8/10
This is the way movies should be made
safelton_1116 August 2018
There have been many movies about life and issues in small towns, so in a sense there is nothing unique about this movie. But what this movie proves is that is doesn't always matter what the movie is about. What matters is how well the movie is made. As the header of this review states, this is the way movies should be made. From the outset I could tell that this was going to be a winner. The movie covers many different plot lines, and at the beginning they are all set up quite well, though you have to pay attention because there are many characters and issues. From then on the movie is easy to follow.

I've noticed that at least sometimes movies by this company, film movement, have a name actor (I assume) to attract viewers. In this movie that's Sandra Oh, and she plays her role perfectly. As for the other actors, the casting is just right, the acting is excellent, the characters are believable, the script is superb, and the pacing is great. In short the movie is highly enjoyable with a very satisfying ending. No violence, nothing in your face, a very pleasant movie experience, with just the right amount of conflict and tension.
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1/10
Slow
grnhair200118 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
While this movie isn't quite as slow as Warhol's Empire, the filmmaker gave that a good try.

There was potential in some of the situations, but they came to nothing.

I didn't care. I found myself rooting for the ?main character to die, so something, at least, would happen. By the time I began fast forwarding at minute 40, I realized nothing could make me care.

I watched this for free, but I still wanted my money back.

Not so bad it's good, unfortunately. Just dull.

Is this ten lines? Not every movie deserves that many.
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6/10
Sandra Oh makes it worth while
phd_travel11 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
If not for the wonderfully expressive face of Sandra Oh this movie wouldn't be worth watching. Her portrayal of an tightly wound realtor is quite hilarious. Quite a realistic character. The ongoing suicide attempt is quite funny. Ellen Page is a little under used. Not quite enough star power to draw in viewers. This Canadian indie movie about the day in the life of a small town is slightly insightful and entertaining with some laughs here and there. Nova Scotia seems a bit bleak in this movie - maybe that is the way the lighting is there. The gay plot seems a bit forced in to be modern.

Worth one watch.
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5/10
quirky small Canadian indie
SnoopyStyle9 June 2014
It's a day in the small island town of Wilby. You're either an islander born in Wilby or a non-islander. Dan Jarvis (James Allodi) is looking to kill himself. Duck MacDonald (Callum Keith Rennie) is the local handyman. Flirty Sandra Anderson (Rebecca Jenkins) is a single mom to teen Emily (Ellen Page). Local cop Buddy French (Paul Gross) is having an affair with Sandra and has an unhappy marriage with his bossy realtor wife Carol (Sandra Oh). Brent Fisher (Maury Chaykin) is the mayor. Anti-gay feelings are being stirred up for a land deal.

It's a small Maritime indie movie. It's a lot of quirks but not a lot of big laughs. There are a few too many main characters because all of these characters take up space. I would prefer to concentrate on a couple and dig deeper. It'd be better to spend more time with fewer lead people. There are a couple of interesting scenes. All the actors do a good job and it's fascinating to see a young Ellen Page. Writer/director Daniel MacIvor doesn't have much cinematic style. It's a quirky little indie but not much more.
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9/10
I really enjoyed this film
mzumwinkel17 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I really liked Wilby Wonderful. The cast did an excellent job with their characters and the dark humor really got me. I'd seen several of the characters in other shows (notably Due South) where they played quite different characters, so it was fun to see the actors branching out.

The character development wasn't a stellar as it could have been, but it was fun. I was raging at the "mean" characters, and cheering for my favorites. Some might say that there was a lack of resolution at the end, but I definitely got the sense that things were going to work out eventually for all parties, which is fine for me. I like a movie that is more subtle about it's happy endings.

Wilby Wonderful is not a blockbuster by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a great sit-around-with-friends-on-a-quiet-night-and-chill movie. I had fun watching it, and I would recommend it highly.
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2/10
Plenty of potential wasted
yours_bh29 September 2004
I saw this movie at the Calgary International Film Festival.

Based on the description of the film and a cast with several quality actors to draw (particularly Sandra Oh), I was optimistic. However, seeing the film, I was sorely let down. The characters each were given a problem which was pretty much token, and not really explored in any depth. Character development beyond each issue (one per character, no more, no less) was sorely missing. Frankly, the writing was of high school creative writing quality at best, and the soundtrack was another glaring weak spot. (How long was the song over the opening credits?) (My sincere apologies to the film makers - I don't mean to trash the film but I was severely disappointed).
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3/10
Wilby Wonderful on Reel 13
eplromeo815 April 2008
Reel 13's latest Indie hails from north of the border and features a cavalcade of Canadian stars, boasting the likes of Sandra Oh, Paul Gross, Maury Chaykin and Ellen Page. The film is a wannabe Altman with its multitude of characters intersecting in a small island town somewhere in Canada. The tone is less satirical than Altman, however, and more sitcom – like Northern Exposure with blander writing. Ultimately, it's pretty slow & boring. Very little of the film captured my attention. The film suffers the same fate as American Wake in that all its subplots dilute each other. Instead of having one well-told story, they have several empty ones.

I normally don't like Sandra Oh, but found her to be among the more seasoned ensemble members. Ellen Page showed the early promise that she has since fulfilled with her Oscar-nominated turn in Juno. Maury Chaykin is good as usual. Most of the other performances are quite unfortunate. I don't see what all the buzz is about Paul Gross. I suppose he's good looking, but that's pretty much all he's got going' on. Rebecca Jenkins is an irritation on screen – very little subtlety in her choices.

There is one extremely memorable performance in the movie and that is from veteran Canadian actor James Allodi. He is given very little to actually say in the film, which is probably the best thing to have happened to him. He communicates his anguish with his eyes and perhaps most impressively, his body language. It's a complete performance and one wishes that he had more screen time.

Allodi's storyline takes a major shift at the beginning of the third act, which is a shift in tone for the film. It is a terrible tragedy in the story, the execution of which is done well. It seems as if the film is starting to finally display depth. Less than a minute later, however, it is washed away as the director chooses to play the tragedy as slapstick comedy. The film goes from Bergman to Laverne & Shirley in one swift, awful stroke.
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