Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 01/11/2013 4:45 PM | Comments: 0
A Russian film theorist named Lev Kuleshov once designed something called The Kuleshov Experiment to demonstrate how audiences can assign subjective meaning to a neutral image. Kuleshov shot an actor’s impassive face, and then edited other images, such as a coffin or a bowl of soup. He discovered the audience could and did assign meaning to that impassive face — fear, angst, hunger, etc. — not because of the expression, but because the intercut images alone.
Director Ryan McKenna’s first feature invokes that bit of film theory, thanks to the oft-impenetrable mug of his star, Rob Vilar. A fixture in many a Winnipeg short film, Vilar is kind of a comic master of the blank gaze.
That talent serves him well here in the role of a Portuguese DJ named ... Rob Vilar.
At home in sunny, warm Portugal, Rob gets a call from Sophie (Eve Majzels, the glamorously doleful star of Matthew Rankin’s short Où Est Maurice?), a woman with whom he had a brief fling while she was on vacation. She has called to bitterly tell him she is pregnant.
Rob gazes blankly. We’re going to assume that’s resolve, because he has soon accumulated enough money to fly to Winnipeg to be with Sophie in her time of need.
But once he arrives, Sophie is barely communicative. She is contemplating abortion. Rob has brought as a gift a sad little baby-sized denim jacket.
After a few days, Sophie suggests it’s time to leave. Rob gazes blankly. Let’s go with a combination of heartbreak and hope. He rents a horrible little workshop property, but stays in town, socking away petty cash for the baby, despite the fact the wintry weather is, as much as we can tell, taxing his resolve.
McKenna himself photographs Winnipeg’s urban landscapes with almost sadistic cunning, shooting in a series of desolate or blighted locations with everything framed by ice and hard-packed snow. There are images here that make the hostile planetoid of Alien look like a Currier & Ives Christmas card. (Even the Winnipeg postcard Sophie sends Rob is comically hideous.)
With tongue in cheek, McKenna has dubbed the film’s style as Winnipeg Brutalism, necessitating, among other things, that all exteriors be shot at night.
Fortunately, the effect is not brutalizing, but funny and a little sad.
As for that enigmatic character Rob Vilar, with his determination in the face of a hostile Winnipeg universe, I’m going to read into that passivity a poignant heroism.
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Canadians hail de la Renta as fashion force
Officer under investigation for sexual harassment sues police force, city
'Hate mail' slammed at Wolseley public meeting
HSC sets aside 10 isolation rooms to deal with Ebola
Judy W-L stays unperturbed while Bowman is buoyed after new poll shows him ahead
Paul Maurice is frustrated after Jets' four-game losing streak
Kurds rally in support of besieged countrymen in Syria
Five-year old boy dies after being struck by vehicle at St. Theresa Point First Nation
Murder trial begins for man accused of dismembering co-worker
N.B.'s new premier touts Energy East
A search for the visionary mayor
Man in Forces incident had 'become radicalized':PMO
Winnipeggers resign themselves to new community mailboxes
Judge's inquiry panel to begin Nov. 24
Bombers will hand offence controls back over to Willy for matchup with B.C. Lions
Record iPhone sales drive Apple's 3Q beat
Voynov suspended on domestic violence suspicion
Advance poll turnout continues to increase, sets record this year
Oscar de la Renta, legendary designer, dead at 82
No rules stop school trustee incumbents from using official email for campaigns
Six-week-old infant dies at Red Sucker Lake First Nation
Architectural historian Frank Albo endorses Sanders for mayor
PTE posts 11th consecutive surplus
Winnipeg group trying to sponsor three Syrian refugee families to come to Canada
From Blink to the Sheriff, these five running backs earned their place in Bomber history
Two-vehicle crash on Trans-Canada Highway near Oak Lake covers lane with debris
Crummey talks Sweetland at News Café
Missing teen last seen in Elmwood
Nigerians await news on missing girls
Police: Indiana suspect hints at more killings
No medics without evacuation plan: Ambrose
Case on aboriginal kids in care nearing end
Police arrest man in alleged sexual assault on transit bus
Bowman, Judy W-L neck and neck, poll shows
Manitoba Hydro invites questions online on its bid to control Lake Winnipeg levels
Drug treatment for female sexuality not about equality
Class action lawsuit filed against CHL
School fire forces relocation of polling station in Elmwood-East Kildonan
Police looking for man suspected of sexual assault at Fort and Graham bus shelter
Mayes, Bihun, Bestland to play at Blues Manitoba bash