Winnipeg writer-director Jacqueline Loewen’s 45-minute wordless melodrama vibes with Guy Maddin-esque flavour. With a title that translates as "The Beautiful Ugly," it has the broad dramatic gesture and muted colour palette of a silent movie as it depicts a tragic love triangle to scratchy old music as one would hear emanating from the ancient Victrola onstage. A man (Rodrigo Beilfuss) is torn between two beautiful women. He chooses one (the lithe Janelle Hacault) but is haunted by the other (a sultry Tanja Woloshen), figuratively at first, then literally.
Loewen, a member of the celebrated sketch comedy troupe Hot Thespian Action, is one of the most gifted female physical comics anywhere, and this work demonstrates a more serious approach to physicality: It is essentially a dance piece, and a handsome one. But while one would not attribute excessive reserve to Loewen in her comedic capacity, the charge sticks here. Sub-titled "a Gothic Fairy Tale," it could use an infusion of amped-up Gothic style in performance, lighting and set design to deliver on its promise.
— Randall King