by Liz Braun, published on October 8, 2004|
Welcome to the small island community of Wilby, where all hell is about to break loose. Wilby is populated by a veritable who's who of Canadian actors, so while this story is sometimes uneven, it's always fun to watch.
Wilby Wonderful is a short story on the big screen, a single day's activity involving disparate but connected characters. Much can change in one day, especially in a small town where everyone knows everyone else.
In Wilby, a sadsack guy (James Allodi) quietly wanders around trying to commit suicide. His bridge-jumping is thwarted, his gas-inhaling is interrupted and a motel maid gets in the way of a hanging. Frustrating.
Meanwhile, an uptight local real estate agent (Sandra Oh) hopes to sell the mayor (Maury Chaykin) a house, her cop husband (Paul Gross) flirts with another woman, that other woman (Rebecca Jenkins) is fighting with her teenage daughter (Ellen Page), and the local handyman (Callum Keith Rennie) quietly observes people around town and helps out where he can.
It seems a scandal of sorts has taken place in Wilby, and the local newspaper intends to print the names of everyone involved. Some locals are frightened, some are shocked, some are happy to live and let live.
Wilby Wonderful is pleasant enough storytelling with a handful of truly brilliant scenes -- most involving Jenkins, Page, Oh or Rennie. The drama aspects of the movie work better than the comedy, however. Sometimes Wilby Wonderful seems like an awkward marriage between a feature film and a TV sitcom.
At any rate, writer/director Daniel MacIvor (who also appears in Wilby as an idiot cop) captures something uniquely Canadian in this film. That's generally a good thing.