Canadian films aren't all snow and hockey, though sometimes it feels that way.
In fact, you could say that Canada is undergoing a sort of cinematic Renaissance -- we're trying to break out of this mould, this image cast in ice, and emerge as one of the loudest, most righteous voices in film. With juggernauts like David Cronenberg, Deepa Mehta, Sarah Polley and Atom Egoyan already on our side, so to speak, you'd think we'd be there already. But movies like Canadian-made Moon Point show us that while we're on the right track, we're still off the mark.
Moon Point, directed by Toronto-based filmmaker Sean Cisterna and written by Robert Lazar, is like an amalgam of the oft-unnoticed Meet Monica Velour and indie sensation Little Miss Sunshine -- filled to the brim with quirk and randomness, yet surrounded by a heartwarming, moralistic shell. At times it feels like we're jumping from one zany event to another, without any real reason for said event other than to make the audience say, "Whoa, that was weird." Underneath that, though, is the persistent engine of a movie that does make us care, that does make us want to know the ending, even if that ending is about as predictable as they come.
Starring Nick McKinlay as unmotivated 20-something slacker Darryl Strozka, Moon Point follows him on his journey to see a girl he hasn't seen since he was 11, but who just so happens to be the star of a slasher film shooting several hours away, in the town of Moon Point. The movie has an open call for extras and advertises on TV -- and Darryl sees the commercial. He enlists the help of his paraplegic friend Femur (Kyle Mac) and they pick up a straggler on the way (Paula Brancati). There are a lot of crazy occurrences on the trip, ranging from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where everyone is dressed as food (Jessica Holmes cameos here as a pair of fried eggs) to a karaoke contest that turns really ugly. All of these events are little more than distractions from the main plot, which is basically your generic guy-gets-the-girl story.
Though not everything about Moon Point makes your eyes roll; the leads (McKinlay and Mac, very Canadian, eh?) are about as genuine and sincere as they can be. By the end of the film, you'll enjoy their bizarre camaraderie and find yourself rooting for them. Mac in particular is a stand-out and brings the most screen charisma to the film. Also welcome in Moon Point is the quality of the movie. I've seen a lot of purely Canadian films in my time, and almost none have been as glossy, or have seemed as high-quality as this one. It was a welcome relief to see the events take place in summer, too -- when Canada is arguably its most beautiful -- and there's not one flake of snow or one mention of hockey.
And that is, hands-down, the best part of Moon Point: It's Canadian, it's warm, it's quirky and it's distinctly "us," without the seemingly mandatory references to "Canadian" things. I, for one, am sick of our country being defined on film by a few select tropes. Let's have more movies like this -- with warm weather, with events that go on without a hockey tournament as a backdrop. Sure, you know how the movie's going to end, but it's films like this that provide the stepping stones to bigger and better projects.
Soon, somewhere in Alberta, a crazy old coot will make a Canadian alien movie. I'm confident. It's only a matter of time.
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