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Hit 'N Strum
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by Jason Whyte

"You hit. I strum."
5 stars

Rarely does a get under my skin the way that the indie-gem “Hit 'N Strum” does. Maybe because I have lived in the film's setting of Vancouver, or that I have a bit of musician inside me that I want to unleash, or that I want to have an unexpected meeting with a stranger and have that person change my life in a way like this movie does. Whatever the case, this is a movie that left me emotional at last winter's Whistler Film Festival and is finally finding a small release in Canada. Let's hope it gets seen by more people.

The film's set up is simple but elegant. Stephanie (Michelle Harrison) is a young, beautiful businesswoman who hits a homeless man while driving in an alleyway. Confused and shocked by this sudden incident, Stephanie flees with a broken windshield (in a great long take that shows the slowly-dawning horror of her situation) and heads home. The next day, she discovers that the same man she hit, Mike (Kirk Caouette) is a busker who plays outside her office on a regular basis.

Relucantly, Stephanie approaches Mike on the street to talk to him and he. Persistent, Stephanie buys him a guitar that he denies. Stephanie still keeps pushing forward to Mike and slowly but surely, it is revealed that Mike is a really good musician and Stephanie tries to help get him off the street. At this point, something interesting happens in the story; each learns from the other. Stephanie isn't as hard-edged as she lets out to be, and Mike fears success. Stephanie is stubborn as can be due to her job, but in Mike it gives her an outlet to help someone. And Mike wants to be where he wants to be, and he sees Stephanie, a good samaritan as a threat.

“Hit ‘N Strum” wisely avoids the clichés of this situation and shows the realities of living in the business world versus living on the street. There are positives and negatives to both lifestyles and Caouette shows it with honesty. Michelle Harrison’s performance, which is direct, focused and concice, parallels nicely with Caouette’s free-thinking yet worried persona.

I also always appreciate when a low-budget movie doesn't try to be anything bigger than it really is; that it takes its limitations and runs with them to make the best movie possible. The movie has a low budget but looks and sounds great and it gets the geography of Vancouver absolutely accurate; I know exactly where all of the film's settings took place, right from the busking corner to that bridge that Mike feels comfortable sleeping under every night. It’s probably just the Vancouverite in me but I appreciate that I really feel I’m right there with the journey.

And of course, the music! Kirk Caouette’s music is full of life, hummable tunes that make me think of the rainy streets of the city and hope for change, as corny as it sounds. I liked how the movie realistically shows Mike coming into the music scene and there are some good little jabs at the realities of the music industry today. I have listened to the film’s soundtrack several times since seeing it at Whistler and it’s worth having a copy!

“Hit 'n Strum” has had a long road; filmed in 2009 and finally starting to make its way around to festivals in the last few months, the movie is a gem that deserves a following. And it has a kind, sincere message at the end of it all, with two people learning something and moving forward in life. I connected deeply with the film and it made me wonder what I would do if someone unexpected came into my life the way that Stephanie meets Mike. It’s something to really think about.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=24911&reviewer=350
originally posted: 03/07/13 16:56:16
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User Comments

4/08/13 Lynn Wee Real, Moving and a well made low budget film 5 stars
4/08/13 Larry Johnston A wonderful little film that shares a wonderful insight to life 5 stars
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  08-Mar-2013 (PG)
  DVD: 09-Apr-2013



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Kirk Caouette

Written by
  Kirk Caouette

  Michelle Harrison
  Kirk Caouette

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