18 April 2018 | calvintoronto
A sharp, and sometimes very funny drama
No doubt had this premiered at Sundance and had been lauded with the laurels of American media this would have been a breakout hit. Sadly, it's likely destined to register with few people, especially in Canada, where "Canadian movie" is still a loaded term.
And that's too bad. This is an indie Canadian movie that moves beyond what one might expect from this repertoire, that is, earnestness and self-consciousness. Rather, MGR clearly takes place in Toronto and Niagara Falls (with a reference to Timmins) that takes such geography for granted, rather than fetishize the locale in the ol' rah-rah-Canada! of yore. This kind of mature gesture extends to the other aspects of the film: an excellent cast (really, not a single misstep in casting), a tight script, and deft editing and direction.
Some moments are laugh-out-loud funny, which serves to heighten the drama (and vice-versa). Mary is an alcoholic, as are other characters, and AA is foregrounded; but the film never engages any kind of moralism or sentimentality or neatly-resolved angst often typical of similar-themed movies. No Hallmark-card moments. Just an engaged and absorbing 90 minutes.
Had the film better funding no doubt it could have amped up the production values, mostly in lighting and sound. But what it does accomplish on its budget speaks to talents of all involved.
Already one of my favourites of 2018.