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Ill Fated

2 stars out of five

Reviewed at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival
Ill conceived entertainment

Once in a while, a movie comes along that looks great, sounds wonderful, and moves nicely but is riddled with plot points and production values that only confuse. Mark A. Lewis’ Ill Fated is just such a flick.

When it’s over we’re left wondering “Whose story was it?” (just one of the characters achieved any sort of resolution, with a finality that shuts the door on the sequel) and “Was the parody intentional?” (the split-second inclusion of a Virginia Woolf novel being read in the midst of The Beverly Hillbillies meets Deliverance was a deft touch, but paled in comparison with the once-too-many, sliding-out-of-the-backdoor-of-the-bus gag).

Other natters include:

  • When best friends head for the old swimming hole for relief on a hot summer’s day, who wears gaudy boxers?
  • In the same sequence there’s a marvellous shot of Jimmy (Paul Campbell who leads the film in the looks department but appears more puzzled than angst laden), treading water before vanishing from the screen. We only hear that he stayed under long enough to worry his buddy Clayton (Christopher Gauthier, convincing as the stereotypical overweight “slow” boy), where a water shot was teased but not delivered.
  • The “chicken or the egg” philosophical question served to glue some of the scenes together (always a winner for those gathered ’round the bar), but the metaphor came to life as a trio of real ones were tossed at various windshields-the last bringing Jimmy and his wayward father, Earl (Peter Outerbridge whose sexual prowess is as accurate as the egg thrower’s) together for first aid, confession and compelling advice “You can’t run away from yourself …”
  • Barry (Bill Croft, savouring the abuses he rains down on anyone in his way) is a nasty man with a nasty son Bobby (John Callander) and a rebellious daughter, Barb (Nicki Clyne, who personifies “be careful what you wish for” when her rabbit test comes up positive—seems Jimmy’s count is as potent as Dad’s), but they live in a house that’s clean enough for a feature in Better Homes and Gardens: “Now Bobby, be sure to dust before you go out and smack that no good sister fucker!”
  • A ray of hope is Jimmy’s eccentric Grampy (John F. Parker, curmudgeon extraordinaire) who tries to show his grandson the value of hard work and morals, only to reveal a tongue worse than a sailor’s when Jimmy refuses his offer of a home. What unintended irony that the job at hand for this generational moment was digging up a broken septic line: shit happened.
  • Showing the passage of time with three “clock” shots in the early going gets tiresome.
  • The weekly fishing trip by the best friends was fine, but who fishes from the beach?
  • The opening “boner” scene comes across as more silly than taunting.
  • And finally, Earl’s moment of truth has to be yelled from behind a stump to those who would either kill or capture him. Fortunately, all are polite enough to let him finish before the film staggers to its unfulfilling conclusion.

Notwithstanding all of the above, if in the right mood, Ill Fated is an entertainment that will bring some chuckles—intended or not. And Mike Neilson’s mallet-filled, saucy score is worth the price of admission alone. JWR

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Reader's Forum
November 15, 2005

[I] can't believe you crapped all over Ill Fated!! poorly written article indicates you’re not a serious film reviewer but i think Canadian film—Canadian indy film has come along way  I enjoy films that portrait and story the way of life up here … pulling out such plebian and mundane observations as a way of grading and judging a film is terrible.  The storyline was great the acting was great, the direction and cinematography were great ....your review made it sound personal—not objective reviewing

"I mean who wears gaudy boxers??"... uuuhhhh ya great point JW ... - Chris M. (Toronto)