Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Toronto Stories

If you're Canadian, you'll be told not to start playing this country's second favourite game (after hockey), that is thrashing Toronto. As a Montrealer, I found the movie okay. This goes without saying that the film could have been better. If you forget the few flaws in the script of this anthology containing four shorts, you'll be amazed by the nice cinematography capturing Canada's biggest city (the two others that follow are Vancouver and Montreal). In fact, given that Toronto has always been disguised as American cities or towns by Hollywood, the filmmakers are not afraid to show Toronto with its charms along with its ugliness. Such an artistic choice means that life can be either beautiful or sad.

A young and silent African boy illegally arrives at the Pearson International Airport without passport and is taken by the special handling department. However, while the airport security has its back turned, the boy gets out of the airport by getting on a bus that will transport him at the heart of Toronto. The presence of this boy serves as a uniter for all the four disjointed short stories.

The first segment called Shoelaces (directed by Aaron Woodley) follows Cayle (Samantha Weinstein) and Jacob (Ricardo Hoyos), two kids from the Cabbagetown district, who are looking for a monster. The second segment called The Brazilian (directed by Sook-Yin Lee) follows Boris (Tygh Runyan), a man who doesn't know if he's interested by love, and Willia (Sook-Yin Lee), a woman who's in love with Boris. The third segment called Windows (directed by Sudz Sutherland) is about Doug (Joris Jarsky), who just got out of prison and who tries to win the heart of his ex, Roshannah (Carly Pope), even though his friend (K.C. Collins) says he should get over it his break up. The fourth story is about Henry (Gil Bellows), a homeless man and also a crack addict, who found the the African boy at the Union train station and who has difficulty to be believed by the authorities.

Of all the four stories, only three of them are really interesting. In fact, one may have the feeling that The Brazilian segment breaks the pace of the film. In fact, at the beginning of the segment, we hardly know what kind of story we're seeing and the performance by Sook-Yin Lee and Tygh Runyan is somewhat boring to watch despite their efforts. Besides, it's just too bad that the end of it, this story becomes clear and interesting given that the dialogues are starting to have a better taste for our ears.

Speaking about the other three stories, I don't need to tell you how amazing they are with their simplicity and also thanks to the performance of the cast, especially from Gil Bellows (24: Redemption) and Carly Pope (Young People Fucking). However, if I have any reservation to express, it's about the the third segment called Windows. Despite being interesting, one may have the feeling that the segment is not developed enough. In fact, the relation between Doug and Roshannah is a little bit underused in a sense that you just wonder how can a woman from a wealthy family fall in love with someone who turns out to be a crook in a first place. Of course, we know that Doug was thrown in prison for armed robbery, but what was his situation prior to this?

Finally, like Paris, je t'aime, Toronto Stories manages quite well to bring us into the life of different Torontonians even though the different stories are clearly disjointed (which wasn't the case for another multi-layered film like This Beautiful City). With that said, the second segment is forgettable and therefore, watch it for the other three segments which are fantastic although we'd like to see them being more developed.

Rating: 3/5

Origin:Canada (2008)
Length:89 minutes
Screenplay:Aaron Woodley, Sook-Yin Lee, Sudz Sutherland and David Weaver
Director:Aaron Woodley, Sook-Yin Lee, Sudz Sutherland and David Weaver
Tokka Murphy, Ricardo Hoyos, Samantha Weinstein, Sook-Yin Lee, Tygh Runyan, K.C. Collins, Joris Jarsky, Carly Pope, Lisa Ray and Gil Bellows

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