This is a love story. It is also a story about dealing with the consequences of pain and looking to the future with hope. Early on in the film we are introduced to three pivotal characters to the story: Silence, Jude, and Ciel.
Silence (Clark Johnson) is a boxer past his prime who is now involved in some sort of underground fighting. Jude is a single mother working as a nurse while trying to provide for her son Ciel (who happens to love doing magic tricks). Thus encapsulates the core characters of the film that created the title Nurse.Fighter.Boy.
Early in the narrative, Silence finds himself in a brawl that leads him to the care of Jude. They quickly start a special connection in the hospital and this bond grows and carries throughout the course of the film. It's interesting to think about this element to the story because these characters almost instantaneously (perhaps magically?) connect. It is hardly convincing that these two very different characters would fall for one another. Perhaps I was meant to view the characters as being closely connected through similarities unseen to the common eye. Unfortunately, I never did see these characters that way.
Jude's son Ciel plays magic tricks and music with a close friend while the two lovers are continuing to see that growing formation to their relationship. The days of the summer go by quickly and the flirtation and romance continues to brew and steam between Silence and Jude - Hey, perhaps it is it true love after all? While all of this is happening the young boy simply continues to have some pleasant times doing various (seemingly redundant and uninteresting) things with a close friend. Not everything is pleasant though... as Jude is actually becoming increasingly ill in one of the worst possible ways.
I am not going to dive further into the plot as there isn't much left to even explain. Doing so would simply help to spoil what surprises there are for new viewers. To be quite frank though -- hardly anything actually happens during the entirety of the plot. While the story itself is underdeveloped and features questionable editing which results in additional pacing issues something to consider about this film is that the interesting, colorful cinematography and jazzy music was surprisingly strong and evocative. If the filmmaker had spent more time trying out creative visuals and had more coordination of these moments to the music some elements would have certainly become more involving simply through adding to one of the film's primary strengths.
It pains me to say that this film doesn't work. The story is just not as well developed as it could have been had it reached its full potential. Here is a film with a heart in the right place and with a story that is deeply personal to the writer/director Charles Officer -- an artist who clearly invested a lot of time and energy into trying to bring this story to life for cinema-goers. The unfortunate thing to consider about all of this effort is that is simply fails to add up to a film that is ultimately that compelling to watch. Not a lot seems to even happen during the film. The pacing was slow and not with good reason. One might argue that the snail-pace was meant to evoke a certain mood and yet the film just doesn't quite manage to pull that mood off effectively. Nurse.Fighter.Boy is trying so hard to succeed and in the end it simply cannot seem to muster enough strength to. I believe that is primarily due to a weak narrative structure.
The film is presented in its original 1:85:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. The use of color is especially striking and noteworthy as the cinematography attempts some interesting visual ideas. There is some film grain, though it is not really an issue with the presentation. This is the best the source material will ever look considering the low budget nature of the film.
The original English language audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This was a surprise as it is not advertised on the back of the case. The surrounds occasionally open up for some nice effects but are kept at a minimum. This is a dialog heavy film. It was nice to have something a bit more enveloping than usual though for an indie production. The actor's voices were crisp and clear and I did not detect any audible distortions.
The extras were underwhelming. A short film entitled Afterglow is included (from director Lisa Blatter). This Swiss production is focused on three people having to deal with the loss of someone important in their lives. I did not particularly enjoy this short; in fact it was far less interesting than the main feature. Given its focus on three core characters and indie nature it at least made sense to see this inclusion.
Film Movement trailers and short biographies about those involved in Nurse.Fighter.Boy are also included.
This is an ambitious and disappointing slice of indie Canadian film-making. It was clearly made from a passionate artist and yet the final product is never as interesting or as moving as it hoped it could be. The included extras are even less interesting. I cannot recommend this film or release despite the fact it was clearly made with good intentions. Skip It.