Friday, 26 July 2013

Normal


This film is a brave attempt to explore the depths of dysfunction that grief, denial and a preoccupation with the trappings of success forced upon the unsuspecting bring. It is a cross between Ordinary People and American Beauty (yes I know it's set in Vancouver).

The central character in the film is never seen - except in out-of-focus flashback. He was killed in a car crash and the as the story unfolds the people and the families caught up in the accident - victims and perpetrators, collide. Within the narrative arc are a number of sub-plots which bring interest and explore some of the themes the film presents in greater depth. Tygh Runyan's performance as the autistic Dennis steals the show by a long way.

The film is not uplifting. For much of it the bereaved mother, Catherine (Carrie-Anne Moss), pouts her way through the depression and denial she appears to embody. Others seek to rebuild their shattered lives and find love in inappropriate ways through desperate encounters that flatter to deceive.

Much of the camera work is hand-held and the editing is at times brutal which left me feeling a little sea-sick! The locations portray the affluent water-side of Vancouver in a way that reinforces the illusion of success that those who live there must surely enjoy. In a nutshell that's what the film is all about - trying to work out what is real and what is illusory. The ending was not what I was expecting and for that I commend Director Carl Bessai, but it came far too quickly and at a pace that was out of kilter with the rest of the film.

To be honest, you are much better off watching the two films mentioned above. They do this kind of thing much much better. It is good to see Carrie-Anne Moss playing a role that allows her to demonstrate her considerable skills, but there is little else to commend this film. I'll give it 5/10.


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