By Deniss Harvey, posted on Tue., Sep. 28, 2004, 7:52pm PT|
Director-writer-thesp Daniel MacIvor's "Wilby Wonderful" reps a solid progression from his rather dreary first pic, "Past Perfect" (2002). New film employs a roll call of leading Canadian thesps in service of this pleasant, if borderline pat, ensemble seriocomedy. Tale of various dissatisfied lives intersecting over 24 hours on a Nova Scotia isle seems best suited to the small screen, though offshore distribs might grok its easygoing nature and marketable (if minor) gay angle.
Local gazette's threat to publish names in a much-whispered scandal at an undeveloped nature site on Wilby Island weighs heavily on several figures here. Fear of being outed drives Dan (James Allodi) to repeated suicide attempts, with shy handyman suitor Duck (Callum Keith Rennie) his worried shadow. Real estate agent Carol (Sandra Oh) is trying to live a high-pressure, urban-careerist life, alienating cop hubby Buddy (Paul Gross), who's already strayed toward sexy single Sandra (Rebecca Jenkins) -- mom to rebellious teen Emily (Ellen Page). Small-town corruption, intolerance and hypocrisy pepper a scenario that seldom surprises, but is painlessly good-natured despite some flat staging and poor soundtracked songs. Package is polished if lacking distinctive style or atmosphere.
Camera (color), Rudolf Blahacek; editor, Mike Munn; music, Michael Timmins; production designer, Emanuel Jannasch. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 14, 2004. Running time: 99 MIN.