Spotlight on Canadian cinema

The Trotsky

Directed by: Jacob Tierny

Starring: Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, Michael Murphy

Release Date: 14 May 2010

Jacob Tierney’s The Trotsky is a comedy filled with everything you could expect from a teen movie, but it’s smart.

The film perfectly portrays what every high school student would want to be a part of if they had a revolutionary as a peer who could inspire the masses.

Jay Baruchel (How to Train Your Dragon, Knocked Up) effectively executes the role of Leon Bronstein, a high school student who believes he is the reincarnation of the 20th century Russian political leader Leon Trotsky.

In the aftermath of organizing a hunger strike at his father’s Montreal factory, Bronstein is sent to public school where he joins forces with other misfits and the students’ union – which to Bronstein’s dismay doesn’t actually fight for student rights, but instead organizes trivial events like dances.

While seeking to find the difference between today’s youth and that of older generations, like the protest movements of the 1960s, Bronstein is forced to ask the question, is it apathy that characterizes today’s youth or are they just bored?

Baruchel is incredible in the role, making you believe that he is not only an awkward high school student, but also an important historical figure that is destined for political greatness.
And while there are subtle references that only those who are fully aware of Soviet history and politics will likely understand, even for a viewer with only a basic interest in history, this Canadian-political film is one of the most entertaining, engaging films of the summer.

—Laura Carlson

A Shine of Rainbows

Directed by: Vic Sarin

Starring: Connie Nielson, Aidan Quinn, John Bell, Jack Gleeson, Tara Alice Scully, Niamh Shaw

Release Date: 28 May 2010

A Shine of Rainbows brings to life Lillian Beckwith’s Irish novel of the same name.

John Bell stars as Tomas, a young orphan who is picked on by his peers for his shyness and stuttering.

Taken in by the friendly Marie, Tomas grows wary of the new life he is about to discover.
Coldly greeted by Marie’s husband Alec upon returning to the island, Tomas finds himself struggling to fit in.

Through the mother/son relationship that he develops with Marie, Tomas begins to gain confidence and finds himself making friends with the local children.

If the touching storyline is not enough to capture the audience’s attention, the gorgeous visual impact of the film surely will.

The Irish landscape is stunning and ever-present with rolling hills, castles and rainbows looming over the beautiful countryside.

Filled with heart-wrenching twists and moments with the power to make you cry, A Shine of Rainbows is a family film that displays the importance of love, laughter and acceptance.

It’s a feel-good movie that provokes the audience to reevaluate what is really important in life.

—Meaghan Walford

The Wild Hunt

Directed by: Alexandre Franchi

Starring: Ricky Mabe, Mark Antony Krupa, Kaniehtiio Horn

Release Date: 9 April 2010

As most Canadian film is recognized as either unduly reflective and sombre or irreverently goofy, it comes as a breath of fresh air to find an offering of local cinema which achieves a tone dabbling in both without overdosing on either.

In fact, director Alexandre Franchi’s film delights in misleading its audience.
The Wild Hunt opens with a terse and exhilarating Nordic battle, only to have it interrupted by a participant whining, “Okay, are we done now?”, exposing the film to be set in the world of LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) – also known as fantasy nerds dressing up in Medieval attire and enacting staged combat.

But Franchi’s trickery does not stop there, as comedic sequences follow, detailing the hapless but charming Erik (Ricky Mabe)’s bemused quest to reclaim his fled girlfriend (Kaniehtiio Horn) from the ranks of the costumed performers who are led by Erik’s gregarious brother Bjorn (played by the hilarious, show-stealing Mark Antony Krupa).

Franchi undercuts the seeming frivolity with continual flashes to mystical divine rites and eerie Nordic music, suggesting all is far from fine and dandy.

Naturally, things take a turn for the worse in a plot twist reminiscent of Lord of the Flies.

However, the real surprise is how quickly and deeply chilling the film becomes as it explores the feral violence allegedly at the core of each person and the worrisome disconnect between fantasy and reality in an isolated microcosm of chaos.

Nonetheless, Franchi’s film remains ultimately just as fun a watch as an intense, thought-provoking one, neatly intertwining the two excesses of cinema into one highly compelling blend. 

—Kevin Hatch