The Bitter Ash

Larry KentCanada80 minutes196314AB&WEnglish

A landmark in Canadian independent cinema, Larry Kent's nouvelle vague-style look at the bohemian underground of early-'60s Vancouver was practically censored out of existence on its original release due to its frank sexual content.

Practically censored out of existence upon its initial release due to its frank sexual content, the debut feature by Larry Kent is a true landmark in independent Canadian cinema. Set in the burgeoning bohemian/hipster underground of early-'60s Vancouver, The Bitter Ash focuses on Laurie (Lynn Stewart), a young woman who is tiring of her husband Colin's (Phillip Brown) literary pretensions — not to mention his refusal to work. The couple's friends are a motley, aimless group, snotty towards outsiders and convinced of their own greatness, even if no one else is. On the outside looking in is Des (Alan Scarfe), a working-class guy with whom Laurie strikes up a friendship, which soon looks like it may lead to something more. A simultaneously sympathetic and caustic portrait of bohemian discontent, The Bitter Ash "conveyed a down-to-earth realism, dramatic tension and sexual eroticism, which came as an unexpected force on screens that were then so empty of Canadian films" (Gerald Pratley).

First FeatureNon-conformityDocumentaryCanadian