Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On the Corner

Nathaniel Geary's independent film is a sign that not all independent films can be excellent despite the originality. This means that On the Corner always give you the feeling that it could have been better than what we see in the end-result. Hopefully, the film feels quite realistic since it was shot on location in the neighbourhood of Downtown Eastside (a place with serious problems of poverty and drugs) in Vancouver.

Patricia "Angel" Henry (Alex Rice), an Aboriginal who hails from Prince Rupert, lives in Vancouver. In order to survive she turns to prostitution along with her friend Stacey (Katherine Isabelle), a white girl. On one day, Angel encounters Randy (Simon Baker), her brother, and he tells her that he has nowhere to live. Of course, Randy will find a dead-end job, but he'll start selling drugs - by making sure Angel doesn't know it - in the street at the suggestion of Cliffie (JR Bourne), Stacey's boyfriend, in order to make easy money. However, the problem is that Randy will become a drug addict since he consumes drugs more than he manages to sell them. As Angel tries to quit prostitution once and for all, will she manage to get her brother out of the downward spiral he's in?

Visually speaking, some may cringe by seeing that Geary opted for a filming stock that suits more a documentary (or the broadcasting of a live event) rather than a feature film. Obviously, this goes without saying that On the Corner makes a movie like This Beautiful City or Maria Full of Grace look like productions from Hollywood. However, such a courageous choice astonishingly contributes to the film's realism. All in all, instead of being a nuisance to On the Corner, the dark cinematography brings the idea that urban poverty should be shown the way it is as much as possible. In addition to that, the cinematography smartly brings the idea that the characters feel that their situation is hopeless.

However, the problem with On the Corner lies in the script's slow pace. While the story looks interesting on paper, it takes too much time to take off. Indeed, it's only in the film's third quarter that Randy's drug addiction is dealt with while it's the story's point. Hopefully, as the film that gives you the feeling it show slices of some people's life, On the Corner can rely on dialogues that rings so true. Of course, the performance you see might not be as intense as what you see in conventional dramas. However, we have to give credits for the actors for working hard in order to look natural even in some dialogues that might seem trivial since they remind us of things we say in our daily life (ex: how much money did you make today?).

With that said, On the Corner is definitely not your usual drama you see in order to escape from your reality. Besides, without giving us the feeling that their collective performance is either overacted or lame, the cast finds a way to get the job done against all odds when it comes to playing poor characters who are pitted against the theories of social darwinism.

Finally, On the Corner is far to be an entertaining film and watch it if you don't have a negative prejudice against independent films. However, you'll like the film if you don't expect the script to be excellent.

Rating: 3/5

[No trailer available]

Origin:Canada (2003)
Length:95 minutes
Screenplay:Nathaniel Geary
Director:Nathaniel Geary
Starring:Alex Rice, Simon Baker, Katharine Isabelle and JR Bourne

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