Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Girl In Blue

(George Kaczender, 1973)
AKA "U-Turn" - a very peculiar little drama in which Kaczender imports the relaxed, semi-improvisational tone of his NFB shorts into the realm of slick commercial filmmaking. The juxtaposition is almost shocking; the work is not just technically pristine but physically gorgeous, and yet here these people are goofing off and acting up like they just discovered the Nouvelle Vague. While it is about romance and freedom, it's not a 'youth film' - David Selby's thirtysomething lawyer protagonist is far from a dropout. Instead it's almost a feature-length rendition of Everett Sloane's monologue about the girl with the white parasol; Selby sees Maud Adams at a Thousand Islands ferry and dedicates himself to locating her, seeing in her an impossible promise of romantic perfection. For this type of character, Selby is uncharacteristically watchable, if not exactly sympathetic, and there are all kinds of well-played, surprising and funny interactions with vivid supporting characters major and minor. Too bad, then, that the ending is a total cop-out, retreating at a run from every psychological issue the movie ever raised; Selby's climactic shrug seems to be saying 'the CFDC made us do it'. And they should have left the overbearing, flute-heavy musical scoring back at the Film Board.

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