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The River of My Dreams: A Portrait of Gordon Pinsent

Brigitte BermanCanada104 minutes2016PGColourB&WEnglish

Director Brigitte Berman profiles Canadian icon Gordon Pinsent, who left Newfoundland in the late 1940s to launch a storied, seven-decade career as one of the leading actors and most beloved figures in Canadian film and television.

Gordon Pinsent is one of Canada's greatest and most beloved figures. Brigitte Berman's The River of My Dreams is a brilliant portrait of this icon, whose formidable and thoughtful storytelling takes us through his life and career, beginning with his childhood in Grand Falls, Newfoundland. With a body of work that includes the 1960s series Quentin Durgens, M.P., Canadian classics The Rowdyman and John and the Missus, and the acclaimed contemporary films The Shipping News and Away from Her, Pinsent's work is embedded in our national consciousness.

With an irrepressible spark, the natural raconteur relates how, as young man in 1948, he left the Rock to come to Toronto. Flat broke but driven by the dream of working in entertainment, he bounced from one job to the next in a picaresque series of hilarious missteps and joyous breakthroughs. He would later be joined on this adventure by the love of his life, grand dame of theatre Charmion King.

Pinsent's children make appearances in the film, speaking candidly about growing up in proximity to the entertainment world, and fellow artists and friends including Christopher Plummer, Norman Jewison, and Mary Walsh further define Pinsent's personable appeal.

Now 86, the accomplished writer, painter, actor, and director looks back — and ahead — with the same fervent passion that's fed all facets of his life. In some of the most beautiful passages of River, Pinsent recites Keats, Shakespeare, and Lewis Carroll. That incredible and unmistakable voice of his gives us a sense of a life fully lived, and of a mischievous playfulness behind the serious sonority. Berman's film is a charming trip through decades of Canadian culture, one that allows us to see how cultural legacies are built.

MAGALI SIMARD

DocumentaryFilms About FilmLiterary InterestHistoryCanadaFemale Director