Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Marie Ann

(Martin Walters, 1978)
Hard to believe the producer (Fil Fraser) who brought us the adorable Why Shoot the Teacher? proceeded directly to this dire thing, the story of the Canadian west's first white woman. But what kind of "story" is this? The entire movie feels like an inciting incident, forsaking all revealing details of the pioneer woman's life for an exceedingly halfhearted love triangle plot. Andree Pelletier is required to do so much standing around looking pretty that whenever the occasion arises to express an emotion she pounces on it like raw meat; meanwhile Tantoo Cardinal lurks and broods, broods and lurks. The project looks like it was dreamed up by local historians who had never seen a movie; the production design may be 'authentic', but neither the sets nor the characterizations feel lived-in. The flat cinematography, amateurish lighting, erratic location sound, and naggingly incongruous harpsichord soundtrack are all hallmarks of a provincial cinema that can barely hold its oar. Scholastic-style narration, carelessly slapped on to the head and tail, sheepishly explains why anyone should care.