Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This Beautiful City


At the first look, you just don't know what to think about this film when you're going through it. However, if the slow pace didn't get on your nerves, it's only at the end that you realize how much this film is not that bad. Indeed, every elements that form the story fall into piece. Moreover, it's also at the end that you see how the cast's performance gives so much effectiveness to the film despite the slow pace that is not justified, the clumsy (?) cinematography and above all, the small budget.


In Toronto's West Queen West neighbourhood, which is near downtown, we meet five people. Carol (Caroline Cave) and Harry (Noam Jenkins) form an upper middle-class couple living in a condo. Johnny (Aaron Poole) and Pretty (Kristin Booth) are respectively a drug-addict (who pimps Pretty to pay the rent and his drugs) and a prostitute. Peter (Stuart Hughes) is a cop who patrols the neighbourhood. When Carol plummets from her condo balcony the lives of all the five characters collide. In fact, Pretty and Johnny were eye-witness to Carol's attempt of suicide while Peter, as a cop, went to help her.

Wait a minute, is this movie named Crash (2004)? I'm just joking! In the end, This Beautiful City has a more coherent storyline than its American counterpart for every elements of the story are linked together.

On another note, most of you would probably want to immediately return This Beautiful City to your local video rental store if you rented it. In fact, after about half an hour through the film, there will certainly be many people who would wonder what this film is all about after we saw the character of Carol apparently tries to commit suicide. Well, for those who didn't have enough nerves to watch this from A to Z, you missed a different experience. In fact, This Beautiful City is not your usual film whose story gradually unfolds before you. Despite its irksome and slow pace, thanks to a few conversation scenes that don't get to the point, this film can only be understood if you've figured out what the ending conveys.

If you forget This Beautiful City's flaw, which is its pace, you have quite a beautiful film. In fact, the story uses the couple of Harry and Carol as its driving wheel to show that behind a veneer of perfection, one can find dissatisfaction. While the film doesn't necessarily elaborate on why Carol leaped from her condo's balcony, it does provide a good ground for Gass-Donnelly to depict his characters. In fact, the five characters seem doomed in a certain way (as if nothing can get better for them) and try to find at all cost happiness in human relation. For instance, this can be seen through Harry's attempt to have a friendship with Pretty, because Carol feels estranged (without never saying why and that doesn't matter) from him. Or to take another example, we can think about Carol budding friendship with Peter.

Finally, if you don't like independent films, you might overlook the film's biggest quality: the performance of the cast. Of all the members of the cast, it's the performance of Caroline Cave (The L Word) who amazed me the most not because the rest of the cast is incompetent. Far from me the idea of having such a thought! What I mean is that she plays such an underwritten character and yet, through her character's clumsily masked feelings, Cave manages to convey the idea that money doesn't necessarily buy happiness. In relation with the character of Carol, Noam Jenkins (Adoration), who plays Carol's husband, is convincing as a puzzled husband and Stuart Hughes is brilliant as a friend who responds brilliantly to Carol's concern. Moreover, this film is also an occasion to see another facet of Kristin Booth (Young People Fucking) and to get to know Aaron Poole.

Rating: 3.5/5


This Beautiful City
Origin:Canada (2008)
Length:85 minutes
Genre:Drama
Screenplay:Ed Gass-Donelly
Director:Ed Gass-Donelly
Starring:Kristin Booth, Caroline Cave, Noam Jenkins, Aaron Poole and Stuart Hughes


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