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» Eye Weekly Film Review - The Stone Angel

by Adam Nayman, published on May 07, 2008 14:05

Margaret Laurence’s university-syllabus perennial is shot through with almost comically Canadian themes — it’s about striving to die on one’s own ornery terms. Yet Kari Skogland’s film version is less stolid than one might expect and for that she can thank her actors. Newcomer Christine Horne and the always-reliable Ellen Burstyn both do fine, unfussy work playing prairie heroine Hagar Shipley at either end of her tragedy-tinged life; as in the novel, the film balances a present-tense crisis (Hagar attempting to evade internment in an old folks’ home) against extended flashbacks.
It helps that the pair are almost perfectly matched physically, and there is an even deeper resonance between Cole Hauser and father Wings as the different incarnations of Hagar’s troubled husband Bram. The continuity of the performances is undermined by some unfortunately indelicate editing, however, and the film blunders among time periods where it needs to glide. Skogland doesn’t always show a light touch — the scenes featuring Dylan Baker as Hagar’s adult son are shrill and suffocating beyond the director’s intentions — but Bob Bukowski’s deft cinematography tempers the intermittent raggedness of the storytelling.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Source: www.eyeweekly.com

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