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  Love & Human Remains The Rubble Of Relationships
Year: 1993
Director: Denys Arcand
Stars: Thomas Gibson, Ruth Marshall, Cameron Bancroft, Mia Kirshner, Joanne Vannicola, Matthew Ferguson, Rick Roberts, Aidan Devine, Robert Higden, Sylvain Morin, Ben Watt, Serge Houde
Genre: Comedy, Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: David (Thomas Gibson) used to be a teen star on Canadian television, but nowadays, as a thirtysomething waiter, he feels his best days are behind him, and reflects on how everyone else seems to have moved on to better things to his best friend Bernie (Cameron Bancroft), a lowly business executive also trying to hide his lack of satisfaction with life. David's flatmate is ex-girlfriend Candy (Ruth Marshall), a book reviewer who is still looking for love, not having found it with David who now pursues a homosexual lifestyle. Meanwhile, close to where they live has been a sinister development: a nighttime psychopath preying on young women who he leaves dead with one earring ripped from their earlobe as a trophy. Could this killer be someone David knows - or even David himself?

For his first English language film, Denys Arcand followed up the acclaimed Jesus of Montreal with this adaptation of a well-thought of Brad Fraser play, here adapted by Fraser himself. On seeing the film version, many wondered what the fuss was originally about, and it's true at least as a thriller it falls short as it looks as if Arcand isn't particularly interested in any tension other than sexual tension so the killings are presumably metaphorical, and even then the style is so arch that you may have doubts about that as well. On the other hand, to its benefit this examination of love and reluctant relationships in late twentieth century, urban Canada has many smart lines and is consistently well acted, so some have found worth in it.

It's an ensemble piece, with about seven or so characters drifting in and out of each other's lives, making an impression in one way or another, on occasion beneficial but more often than not, erm, not. David goes out clubbing at nights when he's not working, picking up men for brief encounters, but he's got a fan in busboy Kane (Matthew Ferguson) who has a teenage crush on him. As all this is going on, Candy could still be carrying a torch for David, but has long since given up on any rekindling of romance between them and is now searching for someone new.

But will she opt for the personable barman Robert (Rick Roberts), or the lovesick lesbian Jerri (Joanne Vannicola) who has met her at the gym? Jerri certainly seems keen, tracking down her phone number and leaving messages on her machine until Candy agrees to go out with her, much to David's amusement, and one thing leads to another so before she knows it, Candy is in bed with Jerri. But she thinks she's made a mistake and starts going out with Robert instead, leaving Jerri heartbroken. If this starts out sounding like a soap opera, then that's the way it tends to play, as an adult soap with swearing, nudity, sadomasochism and other daring elements added.

All the while, are we supposed to be guessing who the serial killer is? He's so easy to spot that you wonder if they couldn't have put a bit more effort into presenting the other suspects. Another character, who never really connects with the others, is Mia Kirshner's Benita, a dominatrix of David's acquaintance who has psychic powers that make her realise who the killer is before anyone else - but only at the end of the film. Arcand is so laidback about his tone that it's difficult to get excited about the people here, and the problems of holding onto love are nothing that haven't been done before or since, even in the nineties of AIDS and commitment troubles for whatever gender, so when we're supposed to be having our heartstrings tugged it never gels with the amusement of the more successful scenes. That said, the cast handle the script's ups and downs well, perhaps more at ease with the humour than anything else, and it has an intriguingly odd atmosphere - maybe it's a Canadian thing. Music by John McCarthy.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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