Monday, May 10, 2010

Night Friend

(Peter Gerretsen, 1987)
This movie's heart is definitely in the right place as it manouevers its concentrated cast through a virtual chamber drama about the realpolitik of street life and sex work. Far from heroes and villains, every single character is held up as a product of their environment, and the film views social conditioning and change with a thoughtful theorist's eye. The problem with this is that almost every character is pared down to their rhetorical function - only Cynthia Belliveau and a slumming young Daniel MacIvor create characters with real inner lives. As an intelligent and aware priest trying to translate his faith into action, Chuck Shamata's interest in child prostitute Heather Kjollesdal turns him into a detective in a collar, a questionable structural mannerism which really backfires as the movie enters the third act; the more we care about Kjollesdal, the more her point of view recedes to the margins. Even worse than this is the saintly bag lady symbol which Jayne Eastwood is required to mutely inhabit. Glimpses of humour and insight throughout, but Gerretsen never quite manages to translate it into cinema, and he certainly does himself no favours by gratuitously begging comparison to Agnes Varda.

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