That's a Wrap

Notes From the Austin Film Festival and Heart of Film Screenwriters Conference


D: Martin Cummins; with Darcy Belsher, Martin Cummins, Francoise Robinson, Helen Shaver, Nicholas Campbell.

In every big-city Bohemia there's a cultural divide, not readily visible to the naked eye, between the lifers and those who are just passing through on their way to some other station in society. The latter aren't necessarily superficial poseurs. In fact, their "dabbling" in non-mainstream experience often affects their world-views in more dramatic and lasting ways than folks who couldn't really imagine any other mode of living. This is one of the many subtly profound insights of Canadian director Cummins' gorgeous, richly affecting film about life in Vancouver's boho-mecca downtown East Side. The plotting is skeletal: Two friends, a Lifer (Cummins) and a Passer-Through (Belsher), engage in escalating rounds of smack-fueled dissipation driven by their respective private sorrows. A woman who loves one eventually comes to love both, further complicating their relationship. An inevitable crash-and-burn looms, with a shocking final twist added (somewhat arbitrarily) for good measure. But for all of this film's narrative spareness, it's overflowing with textural beauty, note-perfect acting, and the most dead-on portrayals of a specific cultural milieu that I've seen in years. Other movies in this year's AFF may hit you with more stylistic razzmatazz and raw visceral impact, but few are likely to haunt your mind and imagination the way this one will.

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