Love/hate relationships are as timeless as humanity. The risk all lovers take is truly getting to know, live with and survive each other: everybody’s got some nasty bit of history in their closets. If discovered (and many choose not even to look, much less show), the abhorrent truth can (a) traumatize beyond repair (b) create real bedrock on which to grow inconceivably closer (c) send one of the partners storming away in a huff (often permanently) (d) all of the above.
In Matt Bissonnette’s beautifully shot (Arthur E. Cooper, director of photography) rendition of “A Weekend in the Country,” sparked by the sudden reappearance of Will Morrison (Lukas Haas, whose dreamy dark eyes nearly carry the film on their own), a trio of best friends are reunited at the cottage of a psychiatrist (R.H. Thomson) and his long-suffering, doting wife (Wendy Crewson). By Monday, the lives of all five will be changed forever. Compelling stuff! Well, nearly.
The premise is grand and the cast give it their all, but the deluge of cliché-drenched dialogue (from “not that there’s anything wrong with that” to “not after everything …”), an avalanche of plot-point coincidence (the sole wayward kiss espied; the pot-induced confession overheard—coincidentally destroying any credibility Will had left) and a seemingly endless gaggle of loon cries whenever the pristine lake splashes onto the screen (by midway, the desire for a flock-destroying hunt becomes irrepressible) eradicates the magical chance for art and life to commingle in an affirming, memorable manner.
Metaphors are also too heavy by half: Taking down a dead tree, lonely dad plays solitaire, the “boys” rasslin’ a snake while the elders and the object of their love/lust, Maggie (coolly portrayed by Molly Parker), sip lemonade. In a telling flashback, the same thin vixen teases her arduous competitors with a Frisbee toss (forcing them to take a dive after which the Diva gloats “I always win!”)—enough to drive them gay (although Will and Daniel—Adam Scott—do appear to enjoy their wrestling scenes more than they should …).
Mac McCaughan’s original music adds fine balance to the country songs which reinforce the theme. Kudos to the English horn/oboist; sadly the almost-in-tune cellist can’t keep pace. Production Designer Patricia Christie’s sets are a marvel of detail (Canada’s spectacular scenery delights at every turn—global warming must be a left-wing fabrication!). The sumptuous meals win wide praise from the realigning family of five, but no plate is ever “done.”
In sum, the eye and ear have much to enjoy, even as the heart and soul must settle for pleasant interest rather than thought-provoking intrigue. If everything could be done again, perhaps the title might be re-penned to Who Loves the Son and let the rich relationship fabric begin its weave from there. JWR