NF film comes into its own
I’m lovin’ Newfoundland films these days.
I took in Crackie last year, the feature debut by writer-director Sherry White — who was described by The Globe and Mail’s John Doyle as a “major filmmaking talent.”
And she is.
I was most impressed with actor Mary Walsh, who gave the dramatic performance of her life. She was simply brilliant. (I spotted her by the meat section at the Dominion by Quidi Vidi Lake recently and told her so. No Mary, I’m not a stalker.)
When it comes to the arts community, Mary is true NL royalty, the Queen of the Rock. (There’s a King of the Rock, but I’ll get to him a little further on in the post.)
Next I saw Love and Savagery, a love story (based on poetry by screen-writer Des Walsh) about a geologist-poet from Newfoundland (Allan Hawco of Republic of Doyle) who embarks on a rock project in Ireland and falls in love with a beautiful barmaid.
Love and Savagery was a decent movie (not as good as Crackie, in my mind), but worth taking in for the emerging talent of Hawco and his Irish co-star Sarah Greene — and the beauty of Ireland.
By far, my favourite Newfoundland movie is Grown Up Movie Star — which I saw on Friday night at Empire Studio 12 at the Avalon Mall in St. John’s. It continues to play everyday this week until Thursday.
Adriana Maggs’ Grown Up Movie Star has been described as a heartbreaking drama about a family in crisis.
Which it is.
I also heard the film described as “Brokeback Mountain in Flatrock.”
Which it is, sort of.
But it’s so much more than that.
There were moments during the film when I felt uncomfortable in my seat (and I’m not even referring to the Doyle/Cochrane gay-love-making-in-the-cab-of-a-truck scene — a fascinating thing to behold). Other moments I laughed out loud, and once or twice I almost, but not quite, became emotional. (Not that I'd ever admit it if I did.)
It’s fair to say I felt drained by the time the film ended, considering the emotional rollercoaster that it was.
The film was fabulous.
Grown Up Movie Star stars acclaimed actor and Wabush’s own Shawn Doyle (TV’s Big Love) alongside rising star Tatiana Maslany, who won a Special Jury Prize for Breakout Performance at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
Maslany is certainly a great talent, but she was also given golden material by writer and director, Maggs, who created one of the feistiest, most vulnerable young heroines you’re ever likely to see on screen.
Jonny Harris and Steve Cochrane (known for the sketch comedy troop Dance Party of Newfoundland) gave jarring performances that reveal them to be young princes of Newfoundland film.
If there’s a princess, it’s Julia Kennedy (daughter of Health Minister Jerome Kennedy).
As for the King of Newfoundland film, his name is Andy Jones, who plays a small but powerful role in the film as the star’s father. Andy was simply superb.
The Kingdom of NL wasn't as colourful as seen in Republic of Doyle, but it was majestic in its understatement.
If you see one movie at the theatre this year, see Grown Up Movie Star.
Because we all have to do our bit to support Newfoundland and Labrador films.
And because it’s so damn good.