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» Bridge to the truth

Sisters deal with family's dark secrets in wonderful movie
by Liz Braun, published on April 18, 2003

In Marion Bridge, three sisters dance around unfortunate family history while their mother lies dying.

Molly Parker plays the youngest sister, Agnes, the one who escaped Cape Breton but has come home to try to get her life in order. Rebecca Jenkins is Theresa, the oldest sister; she and her husband are breaking up.

Stacy Smith is the middle sister, Louise, a gentle soul who seems a bit lost in space.

Rebecca rules the roost, Louise stays home and avoids real life and Agnes is the wild card.

In addition to her recently overcome alcohol and drug problems, Agnes also has a habit of driving off to Nova Scotia to spy on a teenager.

Each of these women has been badly damaged.

Incest is the large elephant sitting in the corner that everyone pretends not to see.

The sisters communicate mostly by quibbling.

Much is left unsaid.

The past is hinted at, or mentioned only in passing, but it's the past that must be addressed before any of the women in the house can move on.

(Near the end of the film, the sisters pay a visit to their estranged father in a sequence that is alone worth the price of admission.)

Despite their vast differences (and vaster similarities) the sisters learn to face the past and the truth and maintain their love for each other.

Marion Bridge is, despite a few brushes with melodrama, a character-driven story -- slow, subtle, wonderfully written. It's the sort of film that grows on you, quietly, and stays with you a long time after you've left the theatre.

All the performances are wonderful. As the mother of the three women, however, Marguerite McNeil is a standout, as is Ellen Page as the Nova Scotia teenager.

Dark secrets notwithstanding, Marion Bridge is a hopeful story with appealing notions of forgiveness and healing.

The film was written by Daniel MacIvor and is based on his Governor General's Award-nominated stage play. You'll like it because it's really intelligent.

(This film is rated 14-A)

Source: jam.canoe.ca

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