Film Review: NEVER SAW IT COMING (Canada 2017)

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Never Saw It Coming Poster


The film centres on con-artist Keisha Ceylon (Emily Hampshire), a mother trying to etch out a ‘decent’  living for herself and her young son.  She offers psychic services for a prominent fee in missing person cases.  When she reads in the news of a missing person, she shows up.  NEVER SAW IT COMING focuses on one of her cases gone foul.

One trouble with the film is that the audience is treated like idiots having to have all the plot points explained to them.  This is evident from the film’s first scam that the found missing son is in cohorts with Keisha in fooling his parents to pay her so that they can split the cash.

Eric Roberts (star of the 70’s and 80’s and brother of Julia Roberts) gets star billing for a minor part.  He plays Wendell Garfield who is in the film’s most problematic scene.  This is the one in which he is approached by Keisha after his wife’s death, she proposing to help him with her disappearance using her psychic powers.   He is initially shown as a strong skeptic only to become a believer in a few minutes.   She uses the word child and then he uses the word baby and she re-uses the term baby for child so that he starts believing her.  All the dialogue is too obvious for a psychic to use and the segment is totally unbelievable less silly.  Without much warning, a plot wist (not to be revealed in this review) occurs which stretches more of the story’s credibility.

The script or source material contains a few plot holes.  The most glaring one is the detective revealing all the case details to Keisha.  In real life, these things are kept from the public, especially when the investigation is not yet complete. 

The film is advertised s a comic thriller though there are hardly any laughs.  As a thriller, the violent acts occur suddenly, without warning so that there is little suspense or thrills either.  The film contains more violence than necessary and director Harvey is not shy to show to blood and gore.

To Harvey’s credit, he shoots a few solid scene like the ones at the start with the car breaking into the ice and then slowly sinking into the frozen lake.  

The film picks up whenever the story focuses on Keisha’s family life.  The abusive relationship with her boyfriend is the more interesting topic.  They represent the typical quarrelling couple that can no longer get along for the main fact that they have lived with each other for too long and are not willing to give love a second chance or sacrifice their own interests for the other.  The boyfriend is a loud-mouthed idiot who is interesting to watch.  What she sees in him initially is a complete mystery.  But Keisha still  manages to get him to do some of her dirty work.

NEVER SAW IT COMING makes good material as pulp fiction material.  As a film, it gets bogged down with implausible scenes and sub-par dialogue.  One can only shrug whenever a new plot twist occurs.


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Happy Birthday: Emily Hampshire

emilyhampshire.jpgEmily Hampshire

Born: August 29, 1981 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

She was awarded the Birks Canadian Diamond, together with Sarah Gadon, by Telefilm Canada and Birks Diamonds to “recognize the accomplishments of up-and-coming Canadian talent who allow our country to be celebrated on the international stage”.

dir. Marc Evans
Alan Rickman
Sigourney Weaver


BOREALIS, Movie Review. Starring: Joey King, Kevin Pollak

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borealis.jpgBOREALIS (Canada 2015) ***
Directed by Sean Garrity

Starring: Joey King, Emily Hampshire, Kevin Pollak |

Review by Gilbert Seah

BOREALIS opens with two key scenes that establishes the mood and plot line of the film. The first shows the lead character, Jonah (Jonas Chernick) losing at blackjack and having to pay a massive debt or have his legs broken. His daughter, Aurora (Joey King) is about to lose her eyesight for good. In a Hollywood movie, the lead would have to get money to pay for the operation to regain the daughter’s sight, as in for example, Stanley Donen’s parody MOVIE, MOVIE, but this is a non-commercial Canadian film.

Garrity has already awed audiences with INERTIA, LUCID and MY AWKWARD SEXUAL ADVENTURE and actor Chernick has penned LUCID as well as co-written BOREALIS. So, BOREALIS is an anticipated film for those in the know.
The father keeps the bad news from her, taking her on a road trip for two purposes – to run away form his debtors and to show her the Aurora Borealis, a beautiful sight before she loses her sight.

One of the most interesting things about this film is that it features two very annoying leads. The father, the compulsive gambler is also a compulsive liar with hardly any redeeming qualities. He has squandered away all his money and lost his daughter’s possessions including her dog to his debtors. The daughter on the other hand is a 15-year old punk, who is as annoying as any teenager can be, not listening to her father (not that he is worth listening to), and partying half the time. As the film progresses, it becomes a question of who the audience dislikes less.

Garrity’s film is strangely an anti-message film. It tells the audience, for example than gambling is ok and it sorts itself out in the end. A more disturbing message is the one about the Good Samaritan getting almost killed (or maybe killed) for helping out the father and daughter in one scene.

But one thing about Garrity’s film is for sure. It is not the predictable fare one would expect. Things can turn for the better or worse, and good guys and bad guys can get it or win, depending on the mood of the director. But for unpredictable fare, the film accomplishes an unexpected climax that works well, all things considered. Camera work is not half bad, the climax done in the dead of night with just enough light to reveal the important details.

BOREALIS is also proudly Canadian. It could have easily opted for an American setting to delver to a larger audience but it does not. It celebrates Canadian from the road trip with Canadian places to the Canadian dollars flashed out at a diner. The film was shot largely in the Province of Manitoba.

One can always finds flaws in Garrity’s film, and there are quite a few. Still, one cannot complain that the director has accomplished a well executed, mostly compelling film within a small budget. The film looks good in terms of production values.

Borealis has a premiere at the Canadian Film Festival and opens its commercial run a week later – showing that it is one of the festival’s better films. Garrity also won the Best Director Award and Joey King the Best Actress Award at the Festival.

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