Film Review: PRODIGALS (Canada 2018) *** Directed by Michelle Ouellet

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Prodigals Poster
When a young man returns to his hometown to assist with a friend’s trial it soon becomes clear that he isn’t the beacon of success that everyone thought he was.


Michelle Ouellet


As Canadian as it gets, a big city dreamer, Wesley (David Alpay from THE VAMPIRE DIARIES) returns home to the small Ontarian town of Sault-Saint Marie from Toronto to testify for an old friend on trial for murder.   The script by Sean Minogue and Nicholas Carell based on the stage 2011 play by Minogue ups the angst by making it clear that Wesley is not a lawyer that everyone in the town thinks he is.  The old friend on trial is quite the asshole.

  In Sault-Saint Marie, Wesley struggles between an urge to reignite his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Jen (Sara Canning) and his friends’ expectations for him to save the trial.  Despite Wesley’s good intentions, he often comes across as quite the jerk.

Jen initially treats him with disdain, blaming him for leaving him behind.  But, as stories like this goes, they rekindle the times they have had with a good old fashioned roll in the hay.  But Jen (fortunately) has learnt her lesson and would not dream of letting Wesley get the upper hand again.  complications also arise as she is also going steady with another man, commonly known as Nips.

Director Ouellet captures the atmosphere of small town, Ontario complete with run down strip malls, dodgy pubs and moody skies.  It is winter or at least close to it as snow and ice can be observed on the ground.  The town is claustrophobic and there is no where to escape from the old friends Wesley has.  The story is told from Wesley’s point of view.  It is a film about twenty-somethings,

PRODIGALS contains a simple story of a man still trying to grow up and gain respect of his friends.  There is not much where the story can go.  Given the story’s limitations, Oulleet keeps his film always on track, trying to keep the audience’s attention.  It helps too that the lead actor Alpay, good looking and charismatic despite his character’s faults.  Caning and Alpay show off good chemistry as a couple.

The film contains a lot of confrontation scenes which reminds the audience that the film is based on a play.  But Ouellet, at least, puts these confrontation scenes in different settings.

As dramatic adapted plays go, PRODIGALS is a film where drama, acting and atmosphere are most important with crowd pleasing entertainment kept within limit.  PRODIGALS ends up a successful  realistic youth drama with real small town issues that sometimes cannot be solved.  Such is life!


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