I don't know what's with Newfoundlanders, but they seem to not only enjoy making coming-of-age stories, but also excel in it. Obviously, Adriana Maggs's Grown Up Movie Star isn't perfect, but it sure has its charms.
Set in Newfoundland, a Canadian province in the Atlantic Ocean, the film is about coming out of the closet as much as it is about the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Ray (Shawn Doyle) is a former NHL player whose career ended after being convicted of drug trafficking. Now, he's back in his childhood town, has no sense of purposes and tries to raise his two daughters - Ruby (Tatiana Maslany) and Rose (Julia Kennedy) - in any possible way. In fact, Shawn's wife (Maggie Meyer) left him in order to make it big in Hollywood.
Ruby, who is the film's heroine, dreams of leaving her small town. At school, she develops a crush for Will (Mark O'Brien). Obviously, because he comes from the USA, Ruby believes there's something glamorous to it. Besides having practised kissing on her best friend, Ruby develops an intimate relation with Ray (Jonny Harris), her father's best friend. In fact, she asks him to take headshots of her so that she can build a portfolio before moving to Hollywood. However, because of her discovery of sexuality, Ruby will hardly knows how to deal with these photo sessions.
From this last point, Canadian director Adriana Maggs wonderfully manages to link the two sub-plots together. While Ray is having a homosexual relation with a minor-league hockey coach (Steve Cochrane), Ray still believes that Ruby is just a kid. With that said, without demanding Shawn Doyle to overact, director Adriana Maggs manages to illustrate this refusal from many adults to admit that their children get older as time goes by and will eventually be introduced to sex. All in all, even though many might feel that the cast's performance doesn't reveal a lot, Grown Up Movie Star is one of the few dramas I've seen that feel so real and yet painful.
Obviously, since the film is evenly divided between Ruby's discovery of her own sexuality and Ray's gradual acceptance of his own homosexuality, both Maslany and Doyle end up carrying the whole film on their shoulders. Without a doubt, Tatiana Maslany excels in the comedic parts of the film. Speaking about the dramatic parts, I personally thought that she dealt with them in a rather ordinary way, with the exception of the few last scenes which were played with a lot of intensity. As for Shawn Doyle, I don't need to affirm how good he is in playing such a conflicted character who looks so strong on the outside. All in all, with a script that just does the job and a solid performance from the two leading actors, Canadian director Adriana Maggs delivered an amazing first feature film that is pleasant to watch. Besides, it should also be said that the viewing experience is even more pleasant given that the pace is rather quick.
|Starring:||Shawn Doyle, Tatiana Maslany and Jonny Harris|