Is there room for Canadian cinema in the megaplexes that have been cropping up around the city? Are Canadians willing to choose one of our country’s films over the hottest flicks fresh from Hollywood?
The numbers say no. In 1999, Canadian films took in $13.8 million – that’s only 2.1 per cent of the Canadian box office.
The stars may not be the flavour of the month. The budgets are certainly incomparable (Canadian films have an average budget of $2.5 million, in contrast to the US$70 million budget for weak films like Proof of Life that so many Canadians have spent their fun money on, as reported by the National Post).
So, what do our homegrown films like Clement Virgo’s Love Come Down have that many of the blockbuster movies don’t?
A good storyline. Gripping actors. Great cinematography.
“Matthew beats up other people. I, on the other hand, beat up myself,” narrates Neville (played by Larenz Tate), the main character of the film that won three Genie awards.
He and Matthew (best supporting actor Genie winner Martin Cummins) share the same mother – one brother is black, the older one is white. The twenty-something brothers have lived through tragedies, which has allowed them to feel a closeness that few families experience. They pay visits to their mom, Olive (Barbara Williams), who is in prison for murdering Neville’ s abusive dad a decade ago.
Matthew deals with his pain by boxing. Neville turns to club life and drugs. They unhealthily destroy themselves while protecting each other.
Clean and content after completing a rehab program, Neville, working as a shoe salesman while trying to break into stand-up comedy, encounters Niko (Canadian songstress Deborah Cox).
“I’m Neville Carter. I sell shoes,” he smoothly divulges.
“I’m Niko Rosen. I wear shoes,” she sharply answers back. Good girl.
Niko hasn’t had the easiest life, either, which creates a bond for her and Neville’s eventual relationship. She is the adopted daughter of a well-off Jewish couple. Her mom is dying. Her dad is acid-tongued and angry. And Niko is ready to search for her birth parents.
Love Come Down is an entertaining observation of the sources one turns to for love, and of the ways in which one handles pain. Much emphasis is put on faith and God, as Neville’s rehab takes place in a convent. That’s where he meets Sister Sarah (Sarah Polley), an ex-junkie nun who repeatedly reminds him, “God loves you.”
Yeah, Sarah Polley in a nun’s habit is a little difficult to swallow. But Canadian women her age must still get callings from the Big Guy. Don’t they?
Effectively, it’s up to the moviegoer to spend an evening in the presence of Canadian film. The talent is certainly abundant in this $3.5 million budget film, but the PR Hollywoodish buzz isn’t.
So, remember the title, and take a chance on a film from chez nous.
Love Come Down hits the screen on March 9 at Famous Players Centre Eaton.