It’s Day 3 of #WFF20. What have you seen so far? What are you excited to see the most? These questions are almost at the heart of daily film festival life and something I am asked by other filmgoers on a daily basis, and as I’m sitting in my house writing this to you, sipping a coffee and making hot cereal to continue my online film festival adventures, I’m still curious as to what you are seeing.
Starting today on the Virtual portal are two solid Canadian features and both with similar themes on small town life; one from Quebec and one from Prince Edward Island, the latter of which doesn’t seem to be represented in the movies that much!
The Marina (Quebec, dir. Étienne Galloy & Christophe Levac)
A Quebecois coming-of-age dramedy that had raves out of its Fantasia Film Festival premiere earlier this year, THE MARINA is about a wakeboarder named Charlie (Étienne Galloy) who has to recover from an innury and spend his summer at a Marina in a small village in Chambly, QC and winds up hanging out with his friends and then befriending Juliette (Rose-Marie Perrault) , a worker at the marina who may have feelings for him.
It’s a simple premise but I like the “final summer of youth before moving on” when it is done well, and filmmakers Galloy and co-director Christophe Levac keep the momentum flowing at a brisk 82 minute running time. There are also strong performances throughout and the most notable is young Rose-Marie Perreault (who I just saw recently in TARGET NUMBER ONE) as Juliette, playing the conflicted love interest. Without spoiling too much, I really admired how they handled this summer romance with realism and didn’t fall into the traps of lesser movies; both sides have their issues
There is such a great visual energy in this movie too; even in this smaller setting there is so much visual beauty throughout. There’s a lovely shot mid-way featuring Charlie and his Juliette slowly falling for each other through dialogue and a slow push-in of the camera, in addition to an overall gorgeous summer feel where you never want it to end. THE MARINA is light and fun, gave me a surprising Richard Linklater vibe at times, and doesn’t take the easy way out with its characters.
Rating: ***½ out of ****
Still The Water (Prince Edward Island, dir. Susan Rodgers)
Amazingly, I haven’t thought too much about the lack of film work that has come out of of Prince Edward Island; in fact, the only movie that immediately comes to mind is THE BALLAD OF JACK & ROSE starring Daniel Day Lewis. The gorgeous but small island doesn’t get the attention it deserves!
(Seems fitting as my own home on the other end of the country, Vancouver Island, seems underrepresented on film or its productions seem to always be set somewhere else.)
Thankfully, STILL THE WATER brings filmic life back into this area of eastern Canada. Driving all the way from Alberta to the Maritimes (nothing is said about really how long that drive REALLY would be), Jordie (Ry Barrett) returns to his hometown in Mapleque and reunites with his VERY dysfunctional family. Jordie’s sudden appearance is likely because of a violent altercation at a hockey game back home, and there is immediate strife with his two brothers and a formerly abusive father. There is also the neighbor Abby (Christina McInulty) who may have had some
The movie reminded me a tiny bit of PRODIGALS, Michelle Ouellet’s stunning feature from the 2016 Whistler edition, of a man returning to his home town and feeling a bit more than unwelcome. Susan Rodgers, in an impressive feature debut, brings an overall strong character drama that also nicely shows the personality and charm of its surroundings. A few rough patches here and there by following its side characters a little too long are redeemed easily by an interesting family story that feels lived-in, and I also admired the loving tribute to this area of PEI (even a shot of their famous long bridge to the mainland got a smile from me). Solid characters and performances across the board; Barrett is solid as the violence-prone, conflicted brother and I was also very impressed with McInulty as Abby, the conflicted neighbor but also has a heart of gold, and is also a great local musician with a helluva singing voice. Her music performances here are some of the film’s best moments.
STILL THE WATER is a surprisingly effective drama that asks difficult questions about family and the bonds we must make and live up to. And it really makes me want to see more stories from this part of the world.
Rating: *** out of ****
Both THE MARINA and STILL THE WATER begin streaming today and will be available until December 31st on the WFF Virtual site from anywhere in Canada. Thanks to Jive PR at WFF for supplying copies of both films for review!
#WFF20 is here! Join in celebrating cinematic excellence with 97 fresh films, including 30 features and 67 shorts, premiering from December 1 to 20 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 stand by our Streamer Box of choice, Apple TV through the Eventival app) 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!