Film Review: THE MEANING OF LIFE (Canada 2017) ***

The Meaning of Life Poster
A starving musician Finn Faber (Tyler Shaw) gets a temporary job as a therapeutic clown at a hospital entertaining sick kids. He is assigned a 9 year-old leukemia patient: Sophia Hill (Sadie Munroe). Finn soon learns that Sophia coming into his life was no coincidence, but an important lesson he needed to learn before making a big step forward in life.

Director:

Cat Hostick

Writer:

Cat Hostick

It is bold for a film to be entitled THE MEANING OF LIFE.  One expects some life altering experience for the audience or perhaps some urgent message of life.  In writer/director Cat Hostick’s film, she attempts both.  These are extremely high goals to achieve and one cannot fault her for want of trying.  The film poses this all-important question: Would one give up ones career for family or for someone one loves?

A starving musician Finn Faber (Tyler Shaw) gets a temporary job as a therapeutic clown at a hospital entertaining sick kids.  Finn is a music songwriter.  He is assigned a 9-year-old leukemia patient: Sophia Hill (Sadie Munroe).  Finn soon learns that Sophia coming into his life was no coincidence, but an important lesson he needed to learn before making a big step forward in life.

Finn’s inconsistency in character is too noticeable.  Finn is super patient with Sophia.  He encourages her in her painting to no end.  At one point, in  order to start her on drawing live animals, he tells he to close her eyes and imagine that it can be done.”  But Finn has absolutely no patience or time for his father.  Thee is no real reason of how the enmity between father and son has come to this level.

The dialogue between Finn and Sofia is at times corny, but it works and if one evaluates, one can hardly come up with anything better.  “You are a nice dork, I like you.”  “You are beautiful, with or without hair,” Finn tries to convince Sophia to do chemo.

Tyler Shaw who does Finn’s songs is pretty good. He sounds like  a cross between Ed Sheeran and Sam Mendes. The guitar playing is not half bad either.

The best thing about this film are the performances.  Tyler Shaw, who has been signed on by Sony Music in real life does a marvellous job singing and acting.  The young actress Sadie Monroe is a scene stealer.  Other veterans include Dan Lett (who I personally just got acquainted with at the gym) playing Finn’s father, a Canadian actor who has acted in countless films including X-MEN APOCALYPSE and THE SHAPE OF WATER.  Lett has only two scenes in the film but makes them count.

The film has a good message and story but it get a bit sappy and preachy especially towards the end.  “You are the only therapy these kids look forward to each day.” says the nurse to Finn at the end.  Or Finn saying: “I will never give on music.”  The tacked Hollywood ending is also a bit too much, spoiling what might have been a decent believable story.

Flaws aside, THE MEANING OF LIFE turns out to be a pretty decent film.  Director Hostick tries her best and the effort shows.  Entertaining with a message to boot, the film makes a worthy watch.

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