Whistler Film Festival Day 18: Marlene The Magnificent

Jason Whyte | Get Reel Movies

There are just a few days left of premieres in the Whistler Film Festival, and the fest has saved some of the best features for last! All titles will be available through the end of the month. For today’s daily blast, we’re taking a look at a solid new Canadian feature that is unmissable at the fest AND will be in full Canadian release next Spring! 

Marlene (Canada, dir. Wendy Hill-Tout)

Spanning decades, this epic Canadian feature is based on the true story of the struggles of Marlene Truscott (an almost unrecognizable Kristin Booth) whose husband Steven Truscott (Greg Bryk) who has been imprisoned and sentenced to death since he was 14 for a crime he didn’t commit. At that time, Steven was arrested for allegedly raping and killing a girl he had given a bike ride to. Marlene became fascinated with this case as a teenager (played by the omnipresent Julia Sarah Stone who is also in THE INTROVERT’S GUIDE TO HIGH SCHOOL and the short film THE QUIETING), wound up getting involved in researching the case, meets Steven later after he was released on parole and winds up falling in love with him. As the two connect, Marlene becomes fully in belief of his innocence. This battle spans decades and the pair living in hiding, but she is determined to fight for him.

Director Wendy Hill-Tout has a real eye for the frame and also efficiently cuts across timelines (a few subtle shifts in look keep the viewer in check at all times) and the key is in Marlene’s flat-out passion and not giving up to exonerate the man that he loves. This is also a case that helped keep the death penalty out of the Canadian legal system. It is all told in a bold and entertaining drama that has a lot of things to say about Canada’s real laws about the death penalty that came out of this case.  It’s a true Canadian story with universal appeal. 

Rating: *** out of ****

#WFF20 is here! Join in celebrating cinematic excellence with 97 fresh films, including 30 features and 67 shorts, premiering through December 20th and available to Canadian audiences online until December 31. Once you order a film, you have 24 hours to watch it. (We at Get Reel Movies recommend the TV streaming box Apple TV or even the Roku app, both of which I use to stream titles this year.) Plus, WFF has pledged to share net online proceeds on a 50/50 basis directly with the filmmakers or Canadian rights holders.

For more information, visit www.whistlerfilmfestival.com!

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