Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My American Cousin

(Sandy Wilson, 1986)
An extremely likeable piece of work whose deadpan comic touch is anything but dull. Its depiction of hopelessly repressed community life in the BC interior is vividly period-specific in a lived-in way; while 50s nostalgia fills the corners of the frame (and soundtrack), Wilson uses the milieu as a platform to gently deconstruct the romantic mythologies it exploits. As per the title, the big target is Canada-US relations, embodied by cousin John Wildman's rather desperate attempts to embody the greaser archetype. He's as human and insecure as anyone, and as the center of parochial attention he serves as an ink blot to the locals' longings and paranoias. Wildman pulls this tricky role off beautifully, matching the work of Margaret Langrick as the pouty, mercurial kid. She could have carried the movie by herself, only then Richard Donat goes and tops her with his absurdly stolid patriarch. It's a rare movie that evinces this much feeling for all sides of the culture war without stooping to mealy meliorism, but Wilson really does it, measuring in just the right amount of suggestive secondary business to bring the characters to life and bringing everyone back down to earth without dismissing the cultural baggage they have yet to transcend. Smart movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment