JWR Articles: Film/DVD - The Happy Poet (Director/Writer: Paul Gordon) - July 16, 2013

The Happy Poet

1 1
85 min.

Where’s the beef?

As has been noted on more than one occasion in these pages, concentrating too much of the creative process in one person can result in a production that lacks the balancing insights and suggestions so vitally needed to fully flesh out a promising idea.

This is especially true, it seems, in comedies—so many of the cinema’s vrai howlers have had the benefit of at least two writers while many hit sitcoms engage a team of jokesmiths and use their combined talents to tickle viewers’ funny bones week in and week out.

In the case of director/writer/producer/editor/star Paul Gordon’s tale of a man of letters reinventing himself as a purveyor of “organic, mostly vegetarian” food cart fare, the opening scenes offer hope for all kinds of humour ahead, but—like the later description of vegan cookies—doesn’t have enough flavouring to whet the appetite for more.

Very like his central character, Bill, Gordon gradually pushes his audience to the exits due largely to a shortage of believability as the film’s situations, attitudes and actions of his too black-and-white characters unfold.

Curiously, the highlight was the recitation of the poem, “Chasm,” and its miserable alliteration stemming from bruised, bouncing buttocks. Tellingly, Bill’s comment, “the humour didn’t jump right out at you” to his astonished date (Liz Fisher gallantly worked her way through the one-dimensional personality) unwittingly summed up these proceedings in a nutshell. No one was convincingly able to “take life by the sac.”

Losing first principles—as witness abandoning healthy eats for unregulated wieners as the solitary upright fell to its lowest tone—only to suddenly reclaim and embrace betrayals past, gave the ending a false front in search of a pay-off gag that never came.

Nuff said. Cue the uneven piano, fade to black. JWR

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Director/Writer - Paul Gordon
Cinematography - Lucas Millard
Production Design - Caroline Karlen
Editor - Paul Gordon
Further information, future screening/performance/exhibition dates,
purchase information, production sponsors:
Cinema Libre Studio