Future//Present – Werewolf
$12 General Admission
Set in Cape Breton, Werewolf is a dark, gritty and deeply empathetic drama about a methadone-dependent couple, Blaise and Nessa, whose relationship, while possibly being their only source of support, perpetuates an unending cycle of addiction and poverty. Tugging a lawnmower about, they go door-to-door trying to scrape up enough money to survive. We follow their trials as they do their best to straighten their lives out while facing housing waiting lists, a string of hard luck and the threat of relapse. As their resolve is constantly tested, even minor breakthroughs make for compelling drama.
Gillis and MacNeil, both of whom are non-professional actors, give remarkably authentic performances characterized by a palpably desperate urgency. Director Ashley McKenzie skillfully balances this naturalism with an intricate and expressive formal style. Focusing on the slightest ticks of body language, he often situates Blaise and Nessa in the corners of the frame in a way that suggests they could soon fall from view completely.
“Simple in narrative but layered in execution, Werewolf is one of the all-time-great Canadian first films, a calling card on par with Atom Egoyan’s Next of Kin, Guy Maddin’s Tales from the Gimli Hospital, Don Owen’s Nobody Waved Good-bye and, more recently, Andrew Cividino’s Sleeping Giant. It is a harrowing, captivating portrait of addiction and dependence, and a master class in what amateur actors can accomplish with the right guidance. But more than that, it is just so remarkably self-assured, so confident, so intimidating in its own purpose that it is frightening.” – Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail