This frequently compelling Canadian production, which plays like the bastard offspring of CSI and Insomnia, has much to recommend it. With gorgeous Ontario location shots, an unusual storyline (best summed up by my favorite pull quote in recent memory, from The Montreal Gazette: "A dark, stylish story about love, redemption and forensic archeology"), and one of the most evocative scores in recent memory (by Steve London), this has the makings of a cult classic. And yet it strangely misses the mark, mostly due to some stilted dialogue and other over-expository screenplay moments, which leave the actors floundering and in search of a consistent tone.
Focusing on two damaged souls played by Roy Dupuis (looking like a cross between CSI's William Pederson and a young Dennis Farina) and Jane McGregor (herself almost a clone of Carrie-Anne Moss of Matrix fame), the film is ostensibly about the investigation surrounding an ancient body found in a northern Canadian bog, a swamp which has purportedly mystic healing powers. OK: damaged souls (young, single and beautiful), bog with healing powers, you can pretty much guess the rest, though this does take some unexpected turns along the way which keeps the denouement at least partially up in the air until the last moment.
What repeatedly trips this film up lies solely at the feet of the screenplay, which is strange, since it was written by the film's director, who otherwise shows a solid hand with the many disparate filmic elements brought together in this production. People simply do not talk the way they do at times in this film (at least no one I know), and that artificiality pulls the viewer squarely out of the moment repeatedly. What is doubly strange is that these awkward moments are only occasional--perhaps a second screenwriting hand, or a good dialogue editor, would have preened more judiciously, helping the final product along the way. The performances also are hampered, especially McGregor's, who just seems unsure of her line readings at moments.
All told, though, you could do a lot worse than this film, which is unusual enough to merit an evening's rental.
A smashingly good enhanced 2.35:1 image is well rendered here. The film is chock-full of beautiful scenery, and it's a joy to behold in this excellent transfer.
The standard stereo soundtrack is similarly excellent. Steve London's score, which has elements of Philip Glass mixed with a more melodic sentiment, is one of the best in recent memory.
A few extras dot the landscape here: a 12 minute interview with Roy Dupuis, a scenic montage backed with London's evocative music, and three very brief deleted scenes with director commentary.
This was a maddening film in some ways: so much to recommend it, and yet a gnawing feeling that it could have been a lot better with just a bit more effort, screenplay-wise. Still, many people are going to find it a unique evening's diversion, if not an enduring classic of, to quote a certain newspaper, "love, redemption and forensic archeology."
"G-d made stars galore" & "Hey, what kind of a crappy fortune is this?" ZMK, modern prophet