Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Rainbow Boys

(Gerald Potterton, 1973)
Renamed "The Rainbow Gang" for US video release, which still doesn't quite capture it but at least acknowledges Kate Reid as an equal partner in this lovely little three-hander. Long-abandoned housewife Reid joins addled lifelong prospector Donald Pleasance and adventure-seeking New Yawker Don Calfa on a search for a lost stash of gold in the Pacific Northwest. And that's it for narrative in this reed-thin meander; for the entire movie, Potterton simply places these radically contrasting eccentrics into situations that they can bicker about, and lets them do their thing. Smart move: these actors' sense of comic timing is perfectly sufficient, all the more so for the common undertow of heartbreak and loss; it's this deep, minimally articulated melancholia that helps define the film's ultimate, surprisingly moving theme of acceptance. Reid does the brassy Northern gal to a T, Calfa's facial reactions and line deliveries are brilliant, and Pleasance gets an all-too-rare opportunity to conceive an actual performance in a North American motion picture. His distracted, grizzled quietude offer more than a hint of the stock Pinterisms that made him his name in the first place, and in this context this method remains absolutely confident and humane and moving. Added bonus: the calculated inclusion of First Nations characters who are just as quirky and funny as the interlopers - check out the startling, hilarious punchline to the Indian graveyard scene.

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