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Required Viewing - A Film for the Social Good
pup2611 April 2007
Canvas, based on the life of first-time writer-director Joseph Greco, is a film so powerful it should be required viewing in schools and universities around the world. Rarely has the issue of mental illness been so realistically tackled on the screen. The subject was touched upon in such recent classics as Girl, Interrupted and A Beautiful Mind, but Canvas takes a stance of advocacy that is so startlingly refreshing that it will bring shivers up your spine.

Marcia Gay Harden plays mother and wife Mary Marino, afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia. Her husband John, played brilliantly by veteran Joe Pantoliano, is the glue that keeps the family from crumbling during Mary's frequent breakdowns and hospitalizations. Caught in the middle of it all is young Chris Marino, played by the adorably talented Devon Gearhart. The 11 year-old boy is firsthand witness to the ultimate frustration inflicted on a family by mental illness. Confused yet resilient, Chris takes up the unusual hobby his mother handed down to him -- sewing. After some practice, he is the talk of the school for creating unique garments (fetching $40 per shirt, to boot). A Gucci book, given as a birthday gift from a friend, cemented his interest in the craft.

Meanwhile, during her many hospitalizations, John feverishly constructs a wooden sailboat for Mary. He takes an extended leave of absence from his day job to work on his project and is reported to the building inspector by a nosy neighbor. And as if having sewing as a hobby wasn't enough, young Chris is bullied for his mother's "craziness" as well as for his father's sailboat obsession. As confused as his life is, Chris carries himself with pride. He is a survivor.

The emotional core of this film is so profound that it is destined to change minds and lead to more mental health advocacy. Kudos to Joseph Greco for bringing this serious but still taboo issue to the forefront of cinema. He is a true champion of social good. And bravo to Marcia Gay Harden, Joe Pantoliano, and star on the horizon Devon Gearhart for their heartfelt performances.
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Coping with Madness
gradyharp1 February 2008
CANVAS is an autobiographical story by writer/director Joseph Greco and knowing that fact helps to forgive some of the weaknesses of the film. The story - how a family copes with the presence of paranoid schizophrenia and survives - comes from the heart and is as frank a film about the subject of mental illness as any out there. And for all the inherent tendencies to play it as a soap opera, the overriding effect is one of sharing lives challenged by the presence of a crushing disease.

Mary Marino (Marcia Gay Harden) has been afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia for nearly two years and her disease has affected her marriage to her working husband John (Joe Pantoliano in his best role to date) and her eleven year old son Chris (Devon Gearhart): John misses work to care for Mary and still pay for her mounting hospitalization and medical bills and Chris suffers abuse form his mocking school friends, frequently having to explain away his mother's erratic behavior. Mary paints (therapy) the same scene repeatedly, hears voices, and finally refuses to stay on her meds, a fact that results in her long-term hospitalization in a Psychiatric Hospital. John and Chris continue to love Mary despite the radical changes in their lives and each finds a means of coping: John goes on sick leave to build a sailboat for his wife and son in his backyard (he and Mary met and fell in love on a sailboat), and Chris takes up one of Mary's hobbies - sewing patches on shirts - and finds an audience and acceptance and income at his school. How the father and son survive and conquer their challenge presented by the mental illness of Mary serves to provide the ending to this story.

Each of the actors is excellent, especially Pantoliano. Harden is a solid actress but the script fails to capture the essence of her response to her disease. The film feels disjointed and inconsistent and has holes of undeveloped subplots and lines of thought that keep the movie grounded. But knowing that the story is true encourages the viewer to forgive the flaws and appreciate the tough subject matter that should help every viewer to better understand the effect of mental illness on a family. Grady Harp
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Insightful look at the impact of mental illness on the family
roland-10412 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This debut feature film by writer-director Joseph Greco dramatizes the impact of mental illness on the family. Mary Marino (Marcia Gay Harden) suffered the onset of a schizophrenic disorder in her early 40s, a couple years before the film's story begins, and her illness has made life very difficult for her, her husband John (Joe Pantoliano), and their 10 year old son Chris (Devon Gearhart).

Ms. Harden is quite convincing. She gets the furtive, doubting look of a distrustful, paranoid patient. She has emotional displays that are by turns inappropriately silly, sad or enraged. She is capable of socially disruptive, even dangerous, behavior. She makes shadowy references to outside forces that may have wired the house and are spying on everyone. She worries obsessively about her son's safety. She hears voices that cause her acute psychic pain. She's ambivalent about treatment. A particularly disruptive episode, one that causes commotion in the neighborhood, brings the police and Mary's readmission to the state mental hospital for extended care. John and Chris must carry on without her, and they do.

What's special about this film is it's central focus on the impact Mary has on her family. John is a good but simple man who works with his hands, a foreman for a house building crew employed by a developer. He tries to do right by Mary and Chris, but his coping skills are limited and often sorely tested, and he can react blindly at times out of his frustration. The role of John, wonderfully managed by Pantoliano, is reminiscent of Peter Falk's character Nick, the frantic, bumbling yet obviously caring husband of a psychotic woman, in John Cassavetes' 1974 film, "A Woman Under the Influence."

It's good to see Pantoliano playing a sympathetic character for a change, not the usual nasty fellow we know from his Teddy in "Memento" or Ralphie Cifaretto in "The Sopranos." Ten year old Devon Gearhart is a delight. He not only has charm, but conveys a remarkably broad range of emotional responses – joy, wonder, embarrassment, anger, sadness – that seem entirely natural and authentic.

We see and feel Chris's extreme embarrassment when Mary rushes aboard a school bus to embrace him and reassure herself that he is safe. When Chris spends his birthday at an amusement park with friends, Mary arrives unannounced and uninvited with a birthday cake to crash the kids-only party. Chris takes abuse from his peers in the aftermath of such episodes: they taunt him about his crazy mother. He begins skipping classes as a result. Chris and John are both put to pain when Mary erupts in the waiting area of a restaurant, and on another occasion when she wildly dashes outdoors in a rainstorm and creates a flap.

There is a brief bedroom scene while Mary is home on pass from the hospital, when lovemaking is interrupted because Mary is frightened of her skin being exposed and must peek through the drapes to be sure no one outside is watching. It is subtly made clear that her preoccupations have stifled John's arousal, and we can imagine this has happened before. We also share times of nostalgic reminiscence and bereavement, when Chris or John pauses, tearfully, to recall happier times with Mary, before her illness, and mourns the loss of the wife and mother they once knew.

The ending is somewhat ambiguous. John and Chris have cemented a mutually supportive relationship, while Mary is away in the hospital, by building a sailboat together. When the boat is finished, and the fellows invite Mary to join them on its maiden voyage, she is still in the hospital and quite symptomatic, hearing voices and experiencing difficult mood swings. Mary musters enough insight to realize that if she accepts the invitation, her behavior could deteriorate and spoil the day for her loved ones. So she declines to go along.

The voyage is a huge success: we can feel and see the bonding that occurs between father and son. The next scene at first glance seems to show Mary with John and Chris aboard the boat, perhaps on another outing soon after the first. Instead, in an inspired sight gag, the boat is revealed to be resting atop a trailer being pulled around the hospital parking lot. Mary is obviously contented, relaxed, at peace. Her husband and son are close by and also happy. It is the picture of a normal family at play, and these final images conjure the impression that Mary has turned a positive corner on the road toward health.

The fact that the film has a happy, hopeful ending does not trouble me. It is perfectly plausible for a person suffering from schizophrenia to make significant strides toward regaining normal emotional experience and behavioral self control, with effective treatment. My concern is that viewers of "Canvas" who are uninformed about schizophrenia might leap to the conclusion that Mary has made great strides toward recovery in a very brief time, failing to consider that this may just be another transitory mood. Such viewers might also attribute her improvement to the loving, inclusive attitudes of her family, rather than to proper psychiatric treatment. (On first viewing I myself had such a take; I had to see the film a second time to gain critical perspective.)

Of course we know that good professional care and positive family support are not mutually exclusive influences for the better: they serve synergistically to aid recovery. The ambiguity at the end aside, "Canvas" offers a uniquely insightful, compassionate perspective about mental illness within the context of the family. It deepens our appreciation for families who must carry on their own lives while enduring heartaches and a great sense of loss when their afflicted loved ones undergo radical disruptions of their psychological integrity and capacity to return their love. My grades: 8/10 (B+) (Seen in 01/07).
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My Feelings About CANVAS
jennyhedgpeth30 August 2007
I have had the privilege of being able to see Joe Greco's film, CANVAS, and it has profoundly affected me and my family. I am the president of a nonprofit called NAMI--National Alliance on Mental Illness. It is a support, education and advocacy organization for all those affected by mental illness.

When I first saw this film at a film festival, I knew it was something special and I wanted everyone I knew in my circles to see it. It had such an authentic quality and bravely showed some of the nuances involved in the turmoil inherent in having a loved one with a brain disorder. It changed some of the perceptions that my family had erroneously believed.

I hope that this film makes its way into the world at large, as it will serve a great purpose in de-stigmatizing those who struggle with the effects of mental illness. The writing was searingly honest, the portrayals sensitive and oh-so-believable. You really made a difference, Joe! Best Wishes, Jennifer
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Superb film and acting
klauberm21 April 2007
I saw the film at the Sarasota Film Festival. At it's completion, the entire audience gave the film a standing ovation - truly a rare occurrence. I felt the performances by Joe Pantoliano and Marcia Gay Harden were inspired, the film provided a compassionate perspective on schizophrenia and the story was compelling. The subject is challenging to begin with, but this story not only highlighted a serious, often unspoken disease, it bought it out in a light that will prove inspirational for those who have been exposed to this life challenge. I was amazed at the realistic performance by young actor Devon Gearhart. Congratulations to Joe Greco - definitely a young filmmaker to watch!
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Look Out, Here Comes the Movie Thats a Must See...
secordjim21 October 2006
2006 CANVAS; A remarkable movie that works the local communities beautiful surroundings into a film that accepts the challenge to deal with mental illness in today's family lifestyle. The acting looms large with intense moments of diversity and sadness wrapped with an uncertain ending. The script was outstanding, as the cast was able to perform with more non verbal communication that allowed for creative thinking by the audience on how someone could deal with such hardship. CANVAS also seemed to bring out a lot of different social circles and issues that are challenged by the cast's talents and diversity, which also sent out a positive message. Marsha Gay Harden set the bar very high with such a high degree believability on the difficulty to role playing medical responses to prescription medication. Adding all the outstanding qualities of this film, Performance, Script, and Direction, should lead this film to a bright future and exceptional movie review opportunities... Take a Bow, For A Job Well Done. Jim Secord, U.S. CIVIL SERVICE
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A True Must See
mrfantasticF428 January 2007
Canvas was one of the most compelling films that I have ever seen. Young Devon Gearhardt was enthralling, focusing the audience as we watch him grow through a very difficult time. Joe Pantoliano and Marcia Gay Harden are equally transcendent, as this movie shines from start to finish. The cinematography and score stood out as especially interesting technical elements.

In this story of a family with a schizophrenic mother, all the actors perform beautifully. I hope everyone gets a chance to see this film, and I highly recommend it. It is a story of tragic brilliance while being both uplifting and informative. A must-see, for certain.
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Award winning film with heartbreak, hope and humor about a family coping with mental illness.
cptilylvz9 July 2007
Excellent portrayal of a person with a mental illness and the challenges personally, and of the family in learning how to understand and adjust to their reality. It deals with the anger, the fears,the shame, the misunderstandings,and the hope. It's a very heartwarming story with drama and laughter, education, and compassion. A very entertaining film that provides real enlightenment, hope, acceptance and joy!! And in the end provides a "feel Good" feeling! You'll be glad to have seen it when you leave the theater!! and will recommend it to your friends!Well deserving of Awards. Not a Documentary but definitely based on truth!
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Very real emotion gives way to feel good finale
oneloveall29 January 2008
A very touching, low-key drama dealing with the instability of mental illness inside a southern Floridian families household. As viewed through the saddened lens of this up and coming, very good child actor Devon Gearhart, Canvas tries hard to pull at our heartstrings and often succeeds, especially in the first half of this family odyssey. What cooled the film down a bit for me however was a sappy conclusion, leaving viewers with a pleasant enough aftertaste but ultimately betraying some of the honesty and raw emotion portrayed in the first two acts.

Even as the nuanced performances of Joe Pantoliano and Marcia Gay Harden as the struggling couple dig deep into our hearts, writer-director Joseph Greco chooses to go the safe route when wrapping up his small, mildly powerful family film. Although the final twenty minutes or so were somewhat disappointing for it's matter-of-fact, afternoon school special triumph in the face of uncertainty, the movie is undoubtedly emotionally strong in spots, producing quite a few profoundly poignant, tear-jerking moments that will have many running for the hankies.
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A brave little film about the effects of schizophrenia on the entire family
MartinHafer29 July 2008
This is a small little film that slipped in under the radar--the sort of film that probably never made it to your local theater and you've probably never heard of it. That's a real shame, as it's a wonderful film about a real and very serious problem--schizophrenia. Despite the seriousness of the problem (affecting about 1% of the public and indirectly affecting many others), very few films seriously deal with it. Well, here there is an amazingly realistic portrayal of a mother decompensating, but the real focus on the film is her family and their relationships with each other. In particular, her elementary-aged son, as he struggles to understand what's happening with Mom as well as eventually coming to terms with the reality that she's probably never going to be "normal" again. It was a brave decision not to give this film a clear or happy ending--as life with this illness rarely is like a movie.

Very insightful, heart-felt and real--this is a film I would like to use when I teach my psychology classes about the illness. If schizophrenia has affected someone you love, then this is a must-see. For others, I still recommend it, as you'll learn a lot and despite the tears, you'll also see some amazing acting and writing.

FYI--Joe Pantoliano not only starred in this film but he produced the film as well. Joseph Greco both wrote and directed it. Great job.
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Amazing Movie!
Jvampcat221 October 2007
I just saw this movie and it really touched me. The story is actually based on the director's childhood and what it was like to grow up in a household with a mom all the kids called crazy. The portrayal of mental illness was very realistic and very tastefully done. The actors were amazing. Especially Devon Gearhart (the boy). His eyes were so full of emotion and he handles the sensitive scenes like a pro. And Joe Pantoliano was great in this as well. You really get to see a side of him very rarely portrayed in his other work. Just a beautiful movie with a really great personal message. The whole theater applauded as the credits rolled!
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Emotionally intelligent and honest film, a must see film
mdok-130 August 2007
Canvas is an emotionally intelligent and honest film in its portrayal of the experiences of family life where mental illness has affected one of its members. Filled with touching performances and sprinkled with humor, this film leaves the viewer with a deeper understanding of the challenges families face with such illnesses and the painful circumstances that change the way we define our lives. Success has to be redefined and the values we hold close become even more precious.

I am moved by Joe Greco's ability to tell this important story and I believe everyone who sees it is changed by it. Thank you to all involved with this film.
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Senstive treatment of a very important and time sensitive subject
glinlady7 October 2007
Joe Greco does a wonderful job of telling his own story with out being overly sentimental.

Joey Pants plays a new person. A very loving and frustrated husband of a very ill woman.

Marcia is Marcia - great again. Form Pollack to Law and Order and now Canvas! Kudos around!

Devon, a new face on the screen captures Grecos bewilderment and need. He loves his mom. He is the quintessential son. The bonding with his dad is done with a sensitivity you can feel through the screen.

This is a do not miss movie on a cutting edge subject!
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Touching, sensitive, & accurate
jimdscott9 October 2007
Canvas is a touching sensitive film that accurately portrays how mental illness can affect the mentally ill person and that person's family. The main actors do a great job of playing their characters. The film depicts that there is hope for a better life for all involved, despite the traumas that might be incurred in reaching that point.

Hopefully, this film will raise awareness and knowledge of the mentally ill in the general public. Mental illness is a common, organically based disease that responds well to treatment, yet many people do not even seek treatment because of the terrible stigma associated with mental illness. That stigma is rooted largely in the public's ignorance of the causes, prevalence, symptoms, and treatment of mental illness
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Don't Wait for DVD! Incredible Acting and the Real Joe Pantoliano
bobc-363 August 2007
CANVAS should get at least a couple Academy Award nominations. Don't wait for it to come out in DVD.

Inspired by the true story of director Joe Greco's family) the film will touch audiences even more than A BEAUTIFUL MIND, because it's about an ordinary family confronting schizophrenia, rather than a Nobel Prize-winning mathematician. People identify with it--in part because it's not simply about mental illness. It is dramatic, heart-breaking, frightening at times, but also heart-warming, with moments of humor and a bottom-line message of hope. As a small, independent film, CANVAS probably is the LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE of 2007. Sailing, oil painting, and a light house provide key metaphors. Some angles of special interest:

•Award winner Marcia Gay Harden plays Mary Marino, the mother, who becomes ill with schizophrenia. It's a difficult role for any actor to play. I want to hear her talk about it when she accepts her Oscar (it will be her second).

•Emmy winner Joe Pantoliano delivers a powerful, sensitive performance that is a dramatic contrast to the tough guy, wise guy, bad guy roles he played in "The Sopranos" and movies like RISKY BUSINESS and the MATRIX. Play the role personally affected him--he told a NAMI audience this summer that he now realizes that his mother probably suffered from undiagnosed, untreated, mental illness that shaped his own turbulent childhood. He's a sweetheart in the movie, much like he is in real life (surprise).

•10-year old Devon Gearhart plays the son, Chris Marino, whose coming of age comes early. Here's an interesting fact. When he was six, he appeared with Ray Charles, teaching him to play "Chopsticks," in a television commercial for the Georgia State Lottery (He's from Atlanta). He practically stole the show during the NAMI questions and answers.

If you come from a family in which there's a history of schizophrenia, take a few uninitiated friends to see it--or send them DVDs as gifts once they go on sale. CANVAS is the real deal, without stereotypes or gloom and doom. It's educational, but most of all, it's dramatic entertainment.
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Wonderful film
ejk12525 April 2007
A really great movie with a tremendous cast.

A very gripping story about a little discussed topic, mental illness.

The cast lets you inside their lives and help you see what they are dealing with. Devon Gearhart is amazing Watch for him in future films. The director captures the inner emotion of a family dealing with mental illness, you see all sides of the story and understand that everyone wants to return to "normal".

The filming and editing were extremely well done with wonderful flash backs and lots of moving moments

I would not be surprised to see an academy award nomination come from this film. This is a must see movie
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joekraynak15 February 2008
I had great expectations before seeing this movie, and it fell far short of those expectations. I think the acting and cinematography were well done, and I liked the music, but the story didn't convince me of the actual anxiety and angst people in these situations feel. The father has less time and energy to work and mounting medical bills, yet he has money for supplies to build a boat and the time and energy to build it? I would also expect to see a little more anger on the father's part, but I guess Joe Pantoliano is such a nice guy, we couldn't expect him to be angry.

The movie was okay. When I see these glowing reviews, however, I wonder if I was watching the same movie. It came across to me like a Hallmark movie or one of those after-school specials they used to show on TV in the '80s. I live in a family struggling with mental illness, and I like to feel hope, but not false, sailing-into-the-sunset hope.
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Canvas wins my vote
llongo29 June 2007
I am a mother of a mentally ill son. My volunteer work as a teacher, advocate & board member for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)recently gave me an opportunity for a private screening of the independent film CANVAS - A Joseph Greco film featuring Joe Pantoliano, Marcia Gay Harden & Devon Gearhart. It is one of the few dramatic films that can be considered authentic in its portrayal of schizophrenia-presenting both heart-breaking and heart-warming dimensions, and even touches of humor. NAMI members have praised Marcia Gay Harden, Joe Pantoliano and Devon Gearhart for their performances, which are marked by realism, balance and great sensitivity. CANVAS has the potential to touch the general public-it will provide public education and help reduce the stigma that has surrounded mental illness, while reinforcing messages of hope.
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Moving, personal, heartbreaking, sometimes funny
anaragus28 April 2007
I had the chance to see this film as a preview and can't wait for it to have wide release this fall. A moving, personal, heartbreaking and sometimes funny film, with great acting and some surprises that you won't anticipate. Lots of folks who have mental illness in their friends or family will resonate to this film. Hopefully, some who haven't seen mental illness up close and personal will gain new insights. This is a film that you could watch with your older children and have wonderful discussions as a result. The young boy actor is a real find--watch for him again as he has a bright acting future ahead of him, if Hollywood doesn't get its claws into him. And Marcia Gay Harden and Joe P are their usual solid nuanced performances.
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"Canvas" is an excellent film
rboerner146 March 2007
The movie "Canvas" was shown at the Sedona International Film Festival three different times and it was one of their Directors' Choice Award winners. The last performance was sold out. I thought the movie was extremely well written, directed, and produced. The three leading actors were superb.

What makes this movie stand out is that it addresses mental illness issues both from the standpoint of the person with the mental illness as well as from the effect it has on family members and the impact on the family as a whole.

I highly recommend this movie to all audiences, whether or not they have any experience with mental illness.
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A movie for people that love great dramatic stories
onefunkdog22 January 2007
If 'Saw' is your thing, or 'X-Men", this movie isn't for you. This is the art of storytelling--no gratuitous gore, just heartbreaking sorrow that will make you feel to the depth of your soul. No razzle dazzle special effects, just beautiful symbolic imagery that will take your breath away. This is a movie like they should be made: solid characters, real drama created by powerfully quiet moments that build and intensify until you become part of the story itself. An incredible film with a brutally honest portrayal of family trauma--something everyone will understand because we all have families, and we all have dysfunction somewhere in our life.
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Superb film that brings humanity to families that suffer from Schizophrenia
mikalm-321 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Whereas "A Beautiful Mind" was a thoughtful, consciousness-raising, award winning film concerning Schizophrenia, this film is even better. Marcia Gay Harden's performance is right on the money showing the terror of this illness and the human being who exists right along with it. Young Devon Gearhart and Joe Pantoliano as the son and father in the family, accurately depict the agonizing impact on the family, in an understated, never sappy way. The film accurately depicts the course of the illness, hope followed by dashed hopes, followed by renewed hopes. This is a chronic, relapsing illness that has to be fought every day. SPOILER ALERT FOR WHAT FOLLOWS! Even the last scene which shows the triumphant reunion of the family, shows the family returning to the hospital where the mother is still a patient. She is making progress, but still has a long way to go. The film stays honest to the end.
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Accurate Portrayal
jennnm6219523 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
As a daughter of a sufferer of this disease, this movie really hit home for me. Out of all the movies about mental illness I've seen, this is the most accurate. Thank you to the director being so brave for sharing a story that is so inspiring to me. This proves no matter how much you are struggling or how alone you feel, there is somebody out there who understands what you're going through. I 100% recommend this movie for aspiring psychologists, those who's loved one is affected by the disease, or to get a better understanding of paranoid schizophrenia. Thank you for sharing your childhood story Joe- we have a lot in common.
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A Near Perfect Film
drpakmanrains18 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Having been a movie buff for nearly 60 of my 69 years, it is the rare film which can dent my favorite 5 or 10 of all time. "Canvas" has done that, and it may be my best of all. This is a near perfect film. The story, based on the writer and director's recollections of his childhood growing up with a mother who had paranoid schizophrenia, concerns a family coming to terms with what is generally a lifelong condition that is never completely cured. The film itself is nothing like a disease of the week TV movie, but rather a very entertaining, enlightening, and sensitive portrayal of how a husband and son must cope when Mom is mentally ill, in denial at first, and later in an institution. Marcia Gay Harden gives an amazing performance as the wife and mother of Devon Gearhart, an 11 year old just beginning middle school. He too is an incredibly gifted actor, able to express all emotions so realistically, you forget it's not really happening. Unfortunately, to date, he has generally had small parts in other films except "Dog Days of Summer", where he again does a great job, in a less satisfying movie that never got wide release but can be seen on DVD. And Joe Pantoliano has never been better as the husband and father who is trying to keep his family together and make a living. Sounds grim, but Joseph Greco, who spent 10+ years on the script, adds interesting side characters like Pantolianos boss and son, and Devon's school friends and tormentors, as well as some side stories that add humor and dimension to the story. The directors commentary on the DVD is very informative, adding much insight after the viewer has seen the movie by itself. The movie ends on a hopeful note, not as happy as it first seems, but very honest. The music is beautiful, both instrumental accompaniment and vocal songs. Even the title "Canvas" is very clever as the movie plays out, having multiple meanings. I have watched this film 27 times with 24 different people or groups, including a professional help group I belong to, and everyone was amazed at how wonderful this little known film is. Not recommended if "Transformers" is your idea of a great movie, but if you are a serious student of fine cinema, this is a must see.
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Tight Memoir of Tattered Shirts and Sails
jnathanj29 November 2008
Canvas is a good story in itself, but also feels like a sketch of a larger movie that could be.

The acting and the cinematography are light and even, and a bit pulled-back, as if first-takes were all the budget allowed.

This film has a hook for anyone who's had a family member suffering from mental illness.

Point-of-view is omniscient, but is 2/3rds from the son, who loves his mother almost without reservation, yet wishes she could be perfect, or normal, though his definition of that desire changes in the story's course.

Canvas is a candid yet gentle memory. Yet it's told without the prop-device of voice-over narrative. One scene opens with the son asking his buddy, "Am I Weird?", and after his friend's assurance, he risks repeating, "No. Really, Am I weird?" I take that as reference to Rob Reiner's film treatment of S. King's novella, "Stand By Me".

Reiner's movie relied on the narrator. It was successful and profitable, and a fine movie. But, the narrator device was a cheat.

Canvas has no cheats, unless you count as cheat understanding and identifying with all the main characters.

The foil, the foible characters are chalky sketches, but the story has an arc.
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