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by Jason Whyte

"An intimate, small-budgeted, appealing drama that happens to be Canadian."
4 stars

Over the past few years, I've been knee-deep in the world that is independent Vancouver filmmmaking. If you're not from B.C., the names of people like Benjamin Ratner, Trent Carlson, Bruce Sweeney, Lorenzo DeStefano, Carl Bessai, Nathaniel Geary and Scott Smith may be lost on you. But for those that are in this local industry, these are well known names, and they all appear in a community that greatly supports each other. You'll find the same kind of frienship in Toronto, Montreal and even on the eastern seaboard, and it is certainly a far cry from the Hollywood world. And you normally run into all of them at either the film festivals or the public opening weekend in the city.

But there's something about the Vancouver-indie world that I like. The industry here utilizes many of the local talents of the filmmakers and media, and many of them here aren't doing these small features to break out into Hollywood big show. Some do go south and have had success, but many simply don't mind it if they stay in this one place to tell a good, small story. To them, that is what matters the most, even if there's a big Warner film getting filmed down the street.

"Everyone" is the perfect example of a small, character driven film shot in the big city. We almost never see the downtown core or the intense commuting, but rather the urban streets, the outside-of-downtown stores and small houses on quaint roads. Since this is a small-budget film and I remember Trent Carlson telling me about the nightmares involved with shooting in downtown Vancouver when he made "The Delicate Art of Parking" last year, it's better to get the money involved with the characters and let the big city loom in the background.

The multi-character storyline starts off on Ryan (Matt Fentiman) and Grant (Mark Hildreth) are an intimate gay couple who are getting married in a small ceremony from their house. Only close family is being invited to attend, and each comes with their own baggage. Grant's brother Kalvin (Andrew Moxham) is a stoned-out landscaper whose girlfriend Jenny (Anna Williams) lost her child. There's Madeline (Nancy Sivak) who is a long time friend, whose husband Shep (Bill Marchant, who also wrote and directed the film) is a neuroligist and is in pain about a accidental killing of one of his patients. There's Ryan's brother Gale (Michael Chase) who is an actor along with his wife Trish (Suzanne Hepburn) who may be pregnant. There's also Ryan's other brother Luke (Steven Park) and his wife Rachel (Cara McDowell) who are having troubles with conception.

The stories of all of these people come crashing together at this little wedding. A mystery character named Dylan (Brendan Fletcher) shows up with Ryan's mom (Katherine Billings) after Dylan was found sleeping at a bus stop. Dylan's odd behavior starts mixing with some of the guests and especially towards the marrying couple. Ryan and Grant themselves also become heavily conflicted on whether they should get married at all.

Marchant certainly has a love for his characters, and thusly his acting ensemble is a standout. Both Matt Fentiman and Mark Hildreth are terrific playing the conflicted gay couple. Carly Pope (best known from "Popular" playing against Leslie Bibb) lends the best comic relief as a catering chef whose outright forwardness reminded me of Muriel Pritchett in "The Accidental Tourist"; when she arrives late for the wedding, she admits she's having her period. ("It feels like there's a mariachi band in my uterus!") Nancy Sivak and Marchant are excellent as a troubled married couple. Brendan Fletcher plays a suitably creepy, pot-smoking loner who comes across the paths of Kalvin and Jenny when they need it the most. And I wish that the talented Tom Schlote, who was terrific in "Last Wedding" and "Moving Malcolm", had more screen time as a man who is lovestruck with Madeline.

As low budget as the film is, it does have a welcome look. "Everyone" was shot on digital video with Marchant's resources at the Vancouver Film School (where he heads up the acting department). The film's digital look is not completely distracting; at times we notice the video-ish look and the limitations of the medium, but it is certainly far from amateurish. His writing and cast are so good that we simply don't care that it's a $23,000 DV-budgeted film that is not too far from the New York-based Indigent company. (Richard Linklater's "Tape", Gary Winick's "Tadpole" and Peter Hedges' "Pieces of April" are all examples of the like-minded, small budget video features from the company.)

What makes "Everyone" a solid film rather than just a good "Vancouver Indie" is the fact that Marchant knows that everyone has a good story to tell, and we learn it through all of the interaction of all of the clashing stories and these real, dimensional characters. The intimacy of this story works better than expected, and it will be a pleasure to see where Marchant goes next.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10538&reviewer=350
originally posted: 08/25/04 01:18:48
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/30/05 Jess Chase I love this film. Simple as that. 5 stars
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Directed by
  Bill Marchant

Written by
  Bill Marchant

  Brendan Fletcher
  Nancy Sivak
  Carly Pope
  Bill Marchant
  Tom Schlote

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