Film Review: ORDINARY DAYS (Canada 2017) ***

Ordinary Days Poster
Cara Cook is a bright, athletic, college student who disappears without a trace. Five days play out three times from a trio of perspectives; her spiraling parents, the troubled detective assigned to her case and finally, Cara herself.

Directors:

Kris BoothJordan Canning 

A 3-act film based on a script written by one person with the three acts directed by 3 different directors, ORDINARY DAYS looks at an event from three different points of view.  The fact that each act is directed by a different person offers the film different perspectives, though a disadvantage means a kind of disjointed storytelling.  Whether the tactic works is arguable but credit should be given to the filmmakers for the idea where different timelines also intersect, a tactic used before though not that often in films.

A spill on ORDINARY DAYS is given by the lone character in the second act which explains one reason the phrase was chosen as the film title.  The event the three acts examines is the mysterious disappearance of a bright somewhat rebellious teenage college student over the course of 5 days.

The film is bookended with the student (Jacqueline Byers) jogging along the road.  Each act is entitled by the main character in the act.  The first act is titled Marie (Torri Higginsson), the worried mother of the disappeared daughter.  The second is called BrightBill (Michael Xavier), the bright detective who uncovers relevant clues of the case and the third Cara, the missing teen.

The first act deals with the parents, who is clear still love each other tremendously though a few problems exist in their relationship.  (Which couple never has problems?).  When the  mother Marie fails to hear from the daughter, she suspects something odd.  The father (Richard Clarkin) brushers the worry away but is blamed later for not doing anything when they had a chance.  Marie calls a detective, Bill who slowly but effectively covers relevant clues.  The last act follows Cara as she drives her car into a ditch which explains what has happened.

The first two acts are quite good and both absorbing watches.  The first proves that the drama in the parents relationship is more interesting than the mystery of the missing daughter, credit to director Canning.  The second act takes off at a tangent with a new look at the detective and his life.  The last act that resolves the mystery is the least absorbing one and is a let down to the tension built in the first two acts.  The third act shows Cara stuck in the crashed vehicle for 5 days.  One can hardly blame director Jeyapalan as this is limited material.  How interesting can you make a 30 minute segment with a person trapped in a car?

What is impressive about the film is the script that is often filled with layered dialogue.  A the lines are spoken, emotions between the speakers are revealed when one reads between the lines.  For example, when the husband apologizes, the words “I am sorry,” show both his sincerity and regret as well as the ups and downs the marriage goes through.  This must be just one of many incidents as the husband appear to have gone through the situation may times.

The film’s ending requires once agin the viewer to read between the lines.  ORDINARY DAYS is a more than an interesting film, well put together and ultimately satisfying and entertaining.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bskQ8nUCPX8

Film Review: A SWINGER’S WEEKEND (Canada 2017)

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A Swingers Weekend Poster
Seemingly perfect couple Lisa and Dan plan a steamy swingers weekend. However things go wrong when a third couple drops in unexpectedly.

Director:

Jon E. Cohen

The relationships of three couples come under examination in the debut feature of writer/director Jon E. Cohen with co-writer Nicola Sammeroff.

The audience is first introduced to what seems to be the perfect couple, Dan (Randal Edwards) and Lisa (Erin Karpluk).  Dan is exceptionally pleased in the car on the way to a gorgeous property by a lake when Lisa closes a house sale.  “I am the happiest man in the world,” Dan quips.  This means that this couple is going to have problems.  At the house, they are met by the second couple, their younger friends, Teejay (Michael Xavier) and Skai (Erin Agostino) who reveal their recent engagement.  Teejay and Skai are a mixed couple, so that the film can be current with the times.  Skai and Dan had an attraction in the past, so one can expect more trouble.  The third couple is Geoffrey (Jonas Chernick) and Fiona (Mia Kirshner), one with marital problems.  Lisa is unaware of the couple’s invitation by her husband and Fiona is unaware of the purpose of the weekend.

The purpose of the weekend is revealed to the audience 10 minutes into the film.  Lisa and Dan want to swap sexual partners.  It is Lisa’s idea as she wants to try something different, and one can see Dan has the hots for Skai.  Each individual has his or her own reasons for participating in the partner sharing in what is termed A SWINGER’S WEEKEND.  A list of rules are laid out, like no true affection, just sex and confidentiality.  It turns out that the couples are not really swingers but ordinary folk with jealousies and weaknesses trying to be hip.  The girls draw like a lottery to see who sleeps with whom.

It is interesting to see how each person reacts to the assigned sex partner.  But the film is no BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE, Paul Mazursky’s film with a similar theme that was a hit way back when.  One problem is the story’s predictability.  It does not take a genius to guess which couple will benefit from the weekend.  (Cohen has his key to the success of a couple’s relationship.)  Cohen’s film cannot decide whether it should be a drama or a comedy.  As a drama, the story is too predictable and for a comedy, there are insufficient comedic set-ups.  Cohen appears too confident with the humour.  In one scene, Skai suggest yoga and Lisa retorts: “Can we drink wine with the session?”  The camera fades way as if allowing the audience to have time to take a good laugh.  The house, furniture and food served are more interesting than the couples.  The film contain a musical interlude that somehow fails to uplift the proceedings.

It is surprising though that the sex scenes turn out quite erotic.  The segments of Skai putting her arms around Dan while water-boarding and Geoffrey sneaking into the bed naked with Lisa get the blood flowing.

If Cohen meant the film to be a character study, it hardly works with couples the audience does not really care about.  Every person turns out too selfish (except for maybe Geoffrey) at the end.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-R771KctpE8

 

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