Richard Gere and Paul Schrader return the team

Richard Gere and Paul Schrader return the team

It’s hard to believe it’s been 44 years since Paul Schrader and star Richard Gere last worked together in the 1980s american gigolo, The film became not only a cornerstone of Gere’s celebrated career, but also one of Schrader’s films and one of his earliest directorial works. Of course he has written some great screenplays, especially in his collaboration with Martin Scorsese Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ And taxi driver. But it’s what interests him now, half a century later as a writer and director that continues to fascinate him.

In recent years this has included isolated works such as Card counter, master gardener Which received critical acclaim The first reformer. Now he’s back to more of what he calls “mosaic,” in this case a film made up of fragments of a life put under a cinematic microscope at different periods, all moving in and out of the mind of a dying man. But he remains articulate enough to tell the truths of his life over time, some of which are revealed for the first time as he grapples with both morality and mortality.

It’s a complex subject, but in just 95 minutes, Schrader manages to take us through the life of a documentary filmmaker, Leonard Fife (Gere), while interviewing another filmmaker, Malcolm (Michael Imperioli). , a former student, tells his story. It’s one that Schrader presents visually through the present and flashbacks – four time frames in fact, with two actors, Gere as the older one and Jacob Elordi as the younger Five, playing the man in different periods, even in some cases where the older and younger versions collide. . .

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The idea of ​​dealing with the end of life and coming face to face with the truth in front of the camera is certainly an interesting one, and it’s particularly helped by having Fyfe himself a documentary filmmaker, a man used to, if not always adapting, putting real lives on screen. To the facts of his past transgressions and questionable actions. As he sits, insisting that his wife (and producer) Emma (Uma Thurman) be there watching, he and she discover things that may have been long hidden—affairs, breakups, painful decisions, buried truths—as the interview goes on.

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The idea for Schrader came from his friend and author Russell Banks who was in a similar state of mind and wrote a book, LostWhich inspired Schrader’s screenplay, which was not completed before Banks’ death. In fact, Banks asked Schrader to return to the original title of his book, Oh, Canada, which he had been unable to publish. The banks, by the way, were also written OrdealWhich Schrader turned into an excellent film in 1997, and won James Coburn the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Schrader and his cinematographer Andrew Wonder also use no less than four different aspect ratios, color and black-and-white palettes, to represent the different periods beginning in the 1960s, a period of great conflict as the Vietnam War rages on and the draft lottery presents a young Fife facing a moral dilemma – serve or flee to… Canada, a decision that becomes chaotic for him with his pregnant young wife Alicia (Kristin Froseth) and other responsibilities. It weaves in and out of this period with the older Fife of Gere trading places with the younger Fife of Elordi.

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It was a time when young people, perhaps unlucky enough to get their lottery numbers, had to make difficult decisions about the prospect of dying in a distant unjust war. But there’s a lot explored in this mosaic, and I actually found myself wanting more, which is rare because I generally think movies are generally too long these days. There’s a poignant and well-acted scene years later, in which Leonard’s long-estranged son, Cornell (Zach Shaffer), confronts his estranged father in front of Emma, ​​who doesn’t know him. Characters like that come in and out, but none of the supporting cast are given the kind of time that might flesh out their characters to great proportions. That left Gere, Elordi, Thurman, and to a lesser extent Imperioli.

Schrader has a habit of making stand-up films but this film is inherently set in a broader scope, and he believes there is no studio budget to really open it up to perhaps the scope that the material and book deserve, perhaps like Schrader and Gere did all those years ago with American gigolo. It’s a small film, but a lively one thanks to Gere who, like Schrader, has recently worked more in independent films and given some great performances (see Criminally undervalued Norman For example). He is once again simply brilliant here, mastering every aspect of this man looking back, which is unfortunately the only direction he has left to explore.

Elordi does a good job too, suggesting enough to make us think he’s the younger Leonard. In fact, if anyone is looking to make a new version of american gigolo, This is your guy. Thurman is also excellent here in the role, bringing it to life despite the fact that most of the time she is a woman looking on from the sidelines. She manages to say it all with her eyes – concern for her husband and teacher, empathy and surprise, everything the role requires.

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If nothing else Oh, Canada Thought-provoking and worthwhile. Maybe it can inspire others to perhaps examine their lives before it’s too late to do so.

It’s looking for distribution. Producers are Tiffany Boyle, Louisa Lo, Megan Hanlon, Scott Lastaiti and David Gonzalez. By my count, there are 39 (!) others with executive producer titles, proving that making these independent films is never easy.

Title: Oh, Canada
festival: was (competition)
Director and screenwriter: Paul Schrader
ejaculate: Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Jacob Elordi, Michael Imperioli, Zach Shaffer, Kristin Froseth, Jake Weary
Sales agent: WME is independent
Running time: 1 hour and 35 minutes

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