Thursday, December 11, 2008

Falling Angels

Haven't not read the novel from Barbara Gowdy, it's sure that there are things that I couldn't get about the movie. Nonetheless, while I'm not a big fan of independent movies mostly because of their slow pace, I'll still recommend it to anyone who is willing to try something different from mainstream movies. Moreover, if you appreciate good performance, Falling Angels shouldn't disappoint you.

Set in 1969, the story follows three sisters coming of age, who a part of a dysfunctional suburban family that has a bomb shelter in their backyard. Lou (Katharine Isabelle) rebels against her tyrannic father (Callum Keith Rennie), Jim, and even decides to try LSD (without developing an addiction for it) with her boyfriend. Sandy (Kristin Adams) is looking forward to become a perfect mom. Norma (Monté Gagné) is obsessed with the death of her brother and doesn't feel well because of her bad look despite being good in trade skills.

While many may not like this film, Falling Angels has the merit of trying to offer a different kind of movie experience. In fact, the movie doesn't seem to have a story per se that follows a leading premise. In other words, we get the feeling that this film is like one of those documentaries from the National Film Board of Canada that follows the life of an average family. Despite that, that gives, in my opinion, to scriptwriter Esta Spalding (The Republic of Love) the occasion to built a simple character-driven story that focuses on their relation between each other. Add to this a focus on how each of the main characters react to what characterizes the 1960s: Cold War, sexual revolution, drugs and feminism.

All in all, watching this movie is like watching The Osbournes (PS: I never watched it, but I know what it is).

However, if the three girls' relation with their oppressive father and their views on feminism are well shown, there are few things that could have been developed a little bit more. In fact, although the character of Norma may not be the most interesting of all the three sisters, Spalding could have seized the occasion to bring us further into Norma's ambiguous fascination for (and also her friendship with) Stella (Ingrid Nelson), a blond girl that Norma seems to envy for her looks. After all, if Norma hypothetically represses her lesbianism, anyone would certainly like to know how she tries to deal with it given that the movie takes place in the 1960s, a period of "rebellion" against social conformism.

Finally, without being the best Canadian movie ever, Falling Angels is definitely a cute movie with its share of dramatic and humorous moments about a suburban family that tries to deal with its own problems and keep up the appearances for honour's sake. Although some aspects of the script are thin, Falling Angels is nonetheless well served by the well-chosen cast performance. To that matter, kudos to Callum Keith Rennie (H2O), as a father who firmly believes that the man should always dominate the roost, and Katherine Isabelle (The Englishman's Boy), as a girl who staunchly questions that belief.

Rating: 3.5/5

Falling Angels
Canada (2003)
Length: 100 minutes
Genre: Dramatic comedy
Screenplay: Esta Spalding
Director: Scott Smith
Starring: Miranda Richardson, Callum Keith Rennie, Katherine Isabelle, Kristin Adams, Monté Gagné and Ingrid Nilson

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