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 »
After watching "Young Triffie" for the first time on CBC's late night yesterday I can safely say that I did not miss a hellova lot when the film debuted back in 2005.From her crusading stint on CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes as Marg, Princess Warrior, to the way she put a certain highly-placed Nova Scotia MP in his place for mistaking Halifax for Hogtown, it seems there's nothing that Mary Walsh can't do -- and do brilliantly. Then again, having endured Young Triffie, the movie that marks Walsh's feature-film directorial debut, maybe we should make that "almost nothing she can't do." Turns out, when it comes to directing movies, Martin Scorsese and John Ford need not lose much sleep over competition from Walsh. As a movie, Young Triffie no doubt made a damn fine play, which is precisely how it started out.
Written by Ray Guy under the title "Young Triffie's Been Made Away With," it seems to have enjoyed quite a success among discerning theatre goers on The Rock during its stage incarnation. As a film though it could have read "Young Triffie has been made away with by Mary Walsh." And nobody with a sense of the film entertainment would have noticed. Mr. Guy may never sleep the same after seeing one of his great masterpieces being thrown to the dogs. But then that's where Young Triffie, both play and subsequent movie, is set, specifically in Swyers Harbour -- a small, fictional Newfoundland out port, circa 1947.
It is to Swyers Harbour that an inept Newfoundland Ranger (Corner Gas' Fred Ewanuick) is sent packing to investigate what appears to be the ritual sacrifice of a sheep. This being 1947 Newfoundland, and the Ranger being particularly inept, he arrives in town blissfully unaware that circumstances have outstripped him. He will now be investigating the murder of young Triffie herself, she being the unfortunate and simple young daughter of a local crackpot evangelist (sadly played by Andy Jones). Adapted from the stage play by Christian Murray, Young Tiffie boasts a plot that embraces not only murder but paedophilia, incest, drug addiction, religious zealotry and a host of other societal ills. All serve as comic fodder for a cast that also includes Remy Girard (as the local doctor) and Andrea Martin (always miscast; as his meddling wife), Colin Mochrie (as Ewaniuck's commanding officer), Cathy Jones (as a local busy-body) and Walsh herself, cast as post mistress and purveyor of red herring, which in this case is a darn sight more prevalent than cod.
In short, it's the kind of comedy that a more experienced director might mind from a cast of dramatic actors, as opposed to a clutch of comedians. With the comics in control there is no bit of comic business too picayune, no characterization too over-the-top, to allow it to go to waste, even at the expense of paltry considerations such as dramatic arc and storyline. So instead of a cracking good yarn with comedic overtones, viewers are treated to Ewaniuk's best impersonation of Mr. Bean does Buena Vista, while Martin does her best to keep up with the tightly wound Joneses. How long I wonder will Miss Jones have to answer for the inadequate acting ability of her talentless brother.In the end, almost everybody -- except perhaps Newfoundland itself -- comes off looking totally daft.
God forbid that Mr. Guy would allow anyone from this friendly circus to touch "That Far Greater Bay." As a film director, Walsh still needs to learn what she apparently already knows as an actor: Concentrate on telling the story, and trust your audience to find the humour. Talk about a Filme Horribilis.
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