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Falling Angels

Reviewed By Jason Whyte
Posted 09/27/03 04:35:26

"'Oh boy, yet another Canadian film about family dysfunction!'"
1 stars (Sucks)

SCREENED AT THE 2003 VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "You know, Canada is like a big loft apartment on top of a really good party. Keep it down, eh?" - Robin Williams. It's kind of sad, sometimes... I am Canadian, I love living and working here (hey, 30 million people in the one of the world's largest countries can't be wrong!), and yet the sheer quality of Canadian cinema is lacking; one cheap, lackluster production after another, we get the occasional gem through Quebec or Guy Maddin, but otherwise the country needs more risk-taking talent and less of movies like Scott Smith's "Falling Angels", which is, yep, you guessed it, about family dysfunction and in a small town because they're just so darn easy to shoot.

It is just about at the cusp of the 70's, as we take a look at the Field residence, run by Jim (Callum-Keith Rennie), a father who is very controlling over his wife and kids, even going so far to install a nuclear bomb shelter which only looks about a foot or two underground. Jim's wife Mary (Miranda Richardson) is ill and is looked after by their kids: Lou (Katherine Isabelle), a rebellious free-spirit who hates her parents, Sandy (Kristin Adams) who meets up with an older man (Mark McKinney) at her work, and the quiet, reserved Norma (Monte Gagne) who really needs a makeover. The entire movie needs a makeover. It wastes time on feeble subplots involving possible deaths, a younger girl sleeping with an older man, and Richardson's sick mother.

What's even more appaling is this film has good talent that is simply wasted. Katherine Isabelle and Monte Gagne are the only two notable performances here in a sea of good actors. Callum Keith-Rennie plays his bad-dad without conviction, and Miranda Richardson is left with little to do but wander around aimlessly and stand on rooftops. Even Kett Turton, who plays the love interest to Lou, just looks like a bad Johnny Galecki imitation.

I hate to be so hard on Canadian films, but, darn it, I've had enough of bad lighting, poor acting and weak screenplays from this country to last me a lifetime. Smith's film is full of these horrors that plague our cinematic country, sadly enough, although it does deserve a brownie point or two for not being shot on digital video. It's not enough though.

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