This goes to the top of my new Christmas list as it did what a really good Christmas present is supposed to do - pleasantly surprise.
Canadian film is really good for that. I despise the somewhat tragic Canadian Film Industry's built-in limitations but occasionally(and more often than you'd guess) a movie comes along with my absolute favourite film element - investment. We've all seen those films where the cast and crew seem to be enjoying themselves more than we are - I'd use Iron Man 2 and The Big Bounce as good examples, but before that line is crossed - that's the realm I like ...where I feel real investment ...and that's what's up on the screen with Faith, Fraud, and Minimum Wage - a whole bunch of faith...
I had a great discussion with my ol' buddy, Clyffy some years back on the fact that a good movie is ...well, a miracle - I honestly believe it is.
How do a bunch of ego's and ideas and hard work come together to make something meaningful and memorable? Tax credits...rewrites...politics...financial woes ...the weather ...nothing short of a miracle I'd say. That's a beauty of film that really only those who make it understand ...extraordinarily difficult road ...extraordinary destination.
Okay - the performances... Callum Keith Rennie is one of the actors to watch these days - he's just plain great. I loved hating him in Battlestar(a series I don't love hating) but Californication ...whew, didn't think Duchovny could be eclipsed on his own show...
and he's really good here(Rennie) as a dad who reminds me of a few painfully real souls I've know. I like his sensitive smashed-up father a lot ...very good in those moments when emotions can switch up fast ...and obsessing over the dead to the living - I've seen my share ...catharsis on the screen for this kid.
Martha MacIsaac is the film, and if she weren't fantastic it just wouldn't work - but she is. Andy Bush is great, as is Don Allison in the role of "Nately's" villainous Stephen King-esque "Uncle Bob" ...who I hated instantly. Brian Heighton's cameo is a highlight and everything Matt Amyotte says is funny ...you should actually listen to Dave Marsh's songs ...funny funny. In fact, the film boasts a really impressive soundtrack ...well-tailored and catchy as hell.
Buuut Ricky Mabe kinda stole the show for me. He's excellent in the sensitive-jock role and two of my best moments are his uttering of her whole name - old romantic trick but I like it, and the kiss - one of the best screen kisses I've seen in years. Cool cool cool.
**Spoilers ahead...sort of..
The ending/resolution is one o' those make-or-break moments and I held my breath it wouldn't all get tidy and sweet. The miracle is that it doesn't ...instead, it gives a great Christmas gift ...the unexpected. The film works the same as it's lead character - small, feisty, & affecting.
I waited 19 years for Indiana Jones to get back up on the big screen - within five minutes I cared more about the people in this low-budget Canadian film, not because it was written by my friend, Josh - but because it was written well.
A good Christmas movie reminds us what this is all about...
and makes us smile in the process.