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Werewolf

Ashley McKenzieCanada78 minutes201614AColourEnglish

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The hardscrabble existence of two homeless, twentysomething drug addicts is portrayed with sensitivity and brutal honesty in the debut feature by Ashley McKenzie.

Intro and Q&A with director Ashley McKenzie

The hardscrabble existence of two homeless addicts is portrayed with sensitivity and brutal honesty in acclaimed filmmaker Ashley McKenzie’s debut feature. Shot almost entirely in oblique close-ups to capture the disorientation and frustration of McKenzie’s characters, twentysomething junkies Blaise and Vanessa, Werewolf doggedly and courageously refuses to romanticize its characters lives. (The style suggests an affinity for Toronto minimalists such as Kazik Radwanski, and Lodge Kerrigan’s Clean, Shaven.) Sleeping in tents, fighting with government bureaucrats, Blaise and Vanessa survive primarily through an underground economy. They harass people to let them cut their grass with a rusty old mower they haul over dirt roads and through rainstorms. Such scenes capture the futility, toil, and frustration in their lives with startling power, like some crack-addled version of the Stations of the Cross. It’s a testament to the skill of both McKenzie and the performers that they inspire empathy in us even as we find the characters’ actions perplexing and troubling. Werewolf confirms, boldly, the promise of McKenzie’s much-lauded earlier short films.

STEVE GRAVESTOCK

Avec une grande sensibilité et une honnêteté brutale, le premier long métrage de la cinéaste encensée Ashley McKenzie dépeint la vie misérable de deux toxicomanes sans domicile fixe. Werewolf est presque entièrement composé de plans rapprochés obliques qui captent à merveille le sentiment de désorientation et de mécontentement ressenti par Blaise et Vanessa. Le film de McKenzie refuse ainsi courageusement de romancer l'existence de ses personnages, avec un style analogue à celui des minimalistes torontois comme Kazik Radwanski et à Clean, Shaven de Lodge Kerrigan. Dormant dans des tentes et luttant contre la bureaucratie gouvernementale, les vingtenaires survivent grâce à une économie clandestine : ils harcèlent les gens afin qu'ils les laissent tondre leur pelouse avec une vieille tondeuse qu'ils traînent contre vents et marées. Ces scènes captent avec puissance la futilité, le fardeau et les frustrations de la vie qu'ils mènent, à la manière d'un chemin de croix parsemé de crack. Werewolf témoigne aussi du grand talent de la réalisatrice et de ses acteurs principaux, qui attirent la sympathie même lorsqu'ils posent des gestes stupéfiants ou bouleversants. Un audacieux chef-d'œuvre qui confirme tout le potentiel que McKenzie avait démontré dans ses courts métrages couverts d'éloges.

DramaAddiction + RecoveryMental HealthRelationshipsPovertyCanadaFirst FeatureFemale Director
director
Ashley McKenzie

Ashley McKenzie is an emerging writer-director from Cape Breton Island. Her debut feature, Werewolf (16), premiered at TIFF and is a feature selection at the Canada's Top Ten Film Festival. Her short 4 Quarters (15) screened at TIFF, VIFF, Stockholm IFF, and Festival du nouveau cinéma, and won Best Atlantic Short at the Atlantic Film Festival, while Rhonda’s Party (10) was included in Canada’s Top Ten Shorts. Ashley is a three-time recipient of the Shaw Media Fearless Female Director Award from the National Screen Institute of Canada, and won CBC’s Short Film Faceoff. She is an alumnus of TIFF Talent Lab and co-owner of grassfire films.