a Hallmark Hall of Fame production that breaks out into a thriller—eventually.
Viewers should be advised: they will have to wait a rather long time. Dr. Helen
Matthews has come to her family’s cabin to mourn her recently deceased husband
and clear out the clutter. It is decidedly off-season in Northern Ontario’s
Georgian Bay. That will be perfect for either cathartic meditation of criminal
skullduggery in Ruba Nadda’s October Gale
which opens this Friday in New York at the IFC Center.
son tries to dissuade her from moping about the cabin during the stormy season,
but she is drawn to the place. Perhaps it is the solitude she really needs.
Alas, her seclusion will be interrupted when a man with a conspicuous
bullet-wound collapses in her cabin. Vague on the details, he is eager to be on
his way once she has stitched him up, but that simply is not realistic. Even if
he were strong enough, his dinghy could never navigate the mounting storm.
course, someone shot the man calling himself William. Turns out, one of them
was an old neighbor of Matthews’ who comes calling. Belatedly, Matthews’
realizes the extent of their trouble and starts to prepare for his return.
Fortunately, he will be bringing the man responsible for the violence with him.
That would be the mysterious Tom, played by the ever-reliable Tim Roth, who
delivers a much needed energy boost to the film.
is nice to see Nadda working again with Patricia Clarkson, the star of her art-house
hit, Cairo Time. Their first
collaboration is a beautiful ships-passing-in-the-night romance. Nadda’s
Syrian-set follow-up Inescapable had
its heart in the right place and made some worthy points, but it just did not
click as a thriller. Unfortunately, such is also the case with Gale.
Gale is not a complete dead loss. In
general, it is always refreshing to see a character like the intelligent and
mature Matthews on screen. Medically trained and handy with firearms, she is
the antithesis of a helpless victim, which is cool. The compulsively watchable
Clarkson is instantly credible in the role. However, aside from Roth’s late
arrival, she does not have much support. Scott Speedman, who must be the
primary beneficiary of some sort of Canadian protectionism for thespians is so lifeless
and wooden as William, you could almost confuse him with the dead parrot in the
Monty Python sketch.
The thrills never really coalesce in Gale, but it has a strong sense of place
(as was also true of Cairo).
Cinematographer Jeremy Benning capitalizes on the striking scenery of the isles
dotting the bay, conveying both the beauty and the ominous power of nature. Thrillers
just aren’t Nadda’s thing. Best saved for cable or Netflix streaming, the
uneven October Gale opens this Friday
(3/6) at the IFC Center.
Labels: Canadian Cinema, Patricia Clarkson, Ruba Nadda, Tim Roth