kids, don’t drink and plow. We’re
especially talking to you up north. It
causes plenty of grief for a sadsack countryman in Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais’s Whitewash (trailer here), winner of the Best
New Narrative Director Award at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.
Landry had a pretty depressing life to begin with. The alcoholic Canadian widower’s only source
of income was the occasional freelance snowplowing gig. One dark and snowy night, he jumps into his plow
with his flask and proceeds runs down a man trudging along the side of the
road. In a drunken panic, Landry scoops
up the body and drives into the woods, eventually crashing into a sturdy trunk
of old growth.
Landry stews over his predicament, we learn via flashbacks, Landry had some
complicated history with the man on the business end of his plow. After Landry convinces the soon to be late Paul
Blackburn not to kill himself they sort of become friends—for a while.
would think Landry could hole up in his plow for only so long, yet his
self-imposed imprisonment never seems to end.
Whitewash vividly illustrates
the old adages about how the mind can create its own Hell. Unfortunately, the audience is condemned
along with Landry.
Hoss-Desmarais masterfully sets the scene and maintains the mood of profound
melancholy, but Whitewash is still
agonizingly slow to watch. The
understated Thomas Haden Church nicely fits the tone of the picture and excels
in the odd comic interludes without undermining the overall existential vibe. Nevertheless, there is only so much he can do
to punch-up the material while staying in character.
Whitewash bears comparison
to trapped-men movies like Detour and
Buried, but its claustrophobic
setting makes much less dramatic sense.
THC admirably rises to the challenge of carrying the film almost single-handedly,
but how long do you really want to watch him muttering to himself?
Tribeca’s juried award winners are often head-scratchers
and this year is no exception. One can
understand the recognition bestowed on Hoss-Desmarais for the atmosphere he
creates, but not necessarily for his sense of pacing. Mostly recommended for nationalistic
Canadians, Whitewash screens today
(4/27) and tomorrow (4/28), as an award winner at this year’s Tribeca Film
Labels: Canadian Cinema, Thomas Haden Church, Tribeca '13