Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Like Father, Like Daughter

(Christopher Chapman, 1981)
Ship the young delinquent from her corrupt urban home to the wide-open country of the far north, and you're obviously setting up the usual line of bullshit re nature as spiritual restorative for troubled teens. But how exactly does Twyla-Dawn Vokins navigate the long journey from surly petty thief to bouncy, nature-savvy pathfinder? Through nuances of performance and accumulation of incident? No, you naive fool, through the chrysalis-like safety of a totally perfunctory three-minute montage, the cinematic equivalent of Clark Kent's phone booth. This is the very laziest kind of non-filmmaking, and it inspires an aggressively reciprocal contempt in the viewer. As does the straw man 'bad guy', a muttering old crazy trapper on whom daddy Robert Logan dishes out escalating degrees of frontier justice until at the climax it looks like he's going to murder the guy outright. The bad taste this leaves is neither erased by the stupid 'twist' nor leavened by huggy denouement. You wish he had gone after the cutesy-pie monk instead, or for that matter the cinematographer, who just can't get enough of his precious fisheye lens. Also featuring: about ten thousand shots of incoming light aircraft.

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