Film Review: THE DRAWER BOY (Canada 2018) ***1/2

The Drawer Boy Poster
Ontario – 1972. Miles, a young theatre actor from Toronto, arrives in Huron County at the home of Angus and Morgan, two aging bachelor farmers. Miles stays with the two farmers in order to …See full summary »


Arturo Pérez TorresAviva Armour-Ostroff (co-director)

Arturo Pérez Torres and Aviva Armour-Ostroff’s first narrative feature THE DRAWER BOY is based on Michael Healey’s Governor General’s Literary Award winning play.  The darer refers to one who draws. Expectations are high on the esteemed play’s adaptation.  Thankfully, the film lives up to the expectations.

The play, set in the 70’s, is a three handler with a stranger – an actor from Toronto who suddenly shows up at a farmhouse door in Huron county, Ontario, and entering the then comfortable lives of two friends who served in world War II now working on a small farm in Canada.  

The actor is Miles who wishes to observe the farmers in order to write a play about farmers.  Miles asks for a place to stay and an opportunity to watch them do what they do. 

The next day starts of disastrously.  In an attempt to start learning their ways, Miles tries to use Morgan’s tractor and ends up injuring Morgan almost immediately.  Miles suggests that maybe he should just watch from now on, but Morgan insists that he isn’t getting a place to stay unless he helps out.  Upon getting to know the farmers further, he learns that the man who originally answered the door was Angus, who has short-term memory loss due to an injury from the war.

The film and the play has an odd premise of character interaction but it is this oddity that enables the film to fascinate the audience.  Directors Torres and Armour-Ostroff realizes the fact and keeps the story always one step ahead of the audience.  For example, the audience only learns of Angus memory loss after the effects of the memory loss are shown.  The war stories are also revealed slowly, one bit at a time. The uncovering of the truth and the story carries the mystery of the film that is quite effective.

The directors take the film out into the open so that it does not feel like a play.  The three characters talk a lot which is the only point that reminds one that the film is based on a play.   The brilliant performances also remind one of the film’s roots as a good play which is almost sure to contain riveting performances.  All the actors Jakob Ehman playing Toronto actor, Miles, Ricahrd Clark playing Morgan and Stuart Hughes as Angus are to be commended most notably the latter.  Hughes has the ability to move an audience to tears by changing the pitch of his voice.  Otherwise, there are shots of cows, the Huron landscape, the farms, the harvest fields, the interior and exterior of the farm house that lead the audience to forget a stage bound play.

A post-screening Q&A is added on Saturday, November 24th at the 7:00PM screening. In attendance will be Director-Producer Arturo Pérez Torres and Co-Director-Producer Aviva Armour-Ostro

THE DRAWER marks one of this year’s best Canadian films this year.  Among the many awards won is the Best Feature at Canadian Film Fest 2018.