by Adam Nayman, published on May 07, 2008 14:05|
Margaret Laurences university-syllabus perennial is shot through with almost comically Canadian themes its about striving to die on ones own ornery terms. Yet Kari Skoglands 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 Hagars 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 doesnt always show a light touch the scenes featuring Dylan Baker as Hagars adult son are shrill and suffocating beyond the directors intentions but Bob Bukowskis deft cinematography tempers the intermittent raggedness of the storytelling.
Rating: 3 out of 5