TIFF gets ready for its ‘Picture Day’ (Review)
Starting an exclusive run at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this week is the TIFF 2012 Festival alum, and Toronto filmed Canadian production, starting the breakout star of TV’s “Orphan Black” Tatiana Maslany, “Picture Day”. The film marks the directorial debut of veteran “Degrassi: The Next Generation” writer Kate Melville, who delivers an accomplished and engaging, yet small, story that is enhanced by some great performances.
Written and Directed by Kate Melville
Claire Paxton (Maslany) is a teenage girl who is forced to repeat her last year of high school due to bad grades and absenteeism. Claire still prefers to cut class whenever feasible and spends her nights clubbing, living on the fringes of the adult world she’s almost part of. James (McCarthy), the singer in a popular Toronto faux-funk band, is intrigued enough by Claire that the reveal of her age does not sway his pursuit. Claire is also the enamored object of another’s affection, her former babysitting charge Henry (Van Wyck), a shy, geeky science whiz who keeps shoe boxes full of mementos, most of them relating to Claire. After a chance meeting and a shared blunt, Claire is determined to help Henry get noticed at school, hardly difficult since she’s already infamous.
Picture Day is a small intimate story that relies on the chemistry and like ability of its two main leads Maslany and Van Wyck. Maslany is our main focus overall, she’s in almost every scene, and proves that she’s more than capable of the pressure. She is fantastic in the role and has the audience falling for her character despite her sexually freewheeling ways and path to self-destruction. Van Wyck is charming enough to stay involved for the viewer and to follow his story, but this is Maslany’s film from the get go. Writer/Director Melville has crafted a smart script with a real character as its lead. Maslany’s Claire is multi-layered and complex, with a tough exterior that has been hardened by disappointment, but a clear vulnerable center.
The setting is excellent and the City of Toronto easily becomes another character in the film as Melville imbues it with personality and charm. The lively inclusion of Toronto landmarks like Lee’s Palace and Honest Ed’s only enhance the setting of the story and the telling of the film, especially for Lightbox audiences, as these settings are a mere subway ride away. The film also has a great look and feel to the live, infectious musical numbers from the real group used in the film ‘The Elastocitizens’, translating the bundle of energy that the band and singer McCarthy bring to the stage every night.
Tatiana Maslany is easily becoming one of the most sought after and in demand Canadian talent in the country, and its performances like this that will cement that legacy. Featuring Maslany’s accomplished and mature beyond her years performance, Picture Day is a treat to watch. One of the better films to emerge from of the new wave of Canadian cinema that is producing some excellent work as of late, Picture Day is a solid recommend.
4 out of 5
Till Next Time
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