THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY (Ed Gass-Donnelly). 85 minutes. Opens Friday (May 23) at the Royal. For times, see listings. Rating: NN
Stage director Ed Gass-Donnelly’s filmmaking debut is a multi-character drama about five Torontonians connected by a near-?tragedy at a Queen West condominium.
Three months after elegant yuppie Carol (Caroline Cave) survives a fall from their unit’s balcony, her husband Harry (Noam Jenkins) still isn’t sure whether she slipped off the railing or jumped. The junkies who found her, Johnny (Aaron Poole) and Pretty (Kristin Booth), are trying to get clean and leave town for a new start in Thunder Bay. And Peter (Stuart Hughes), the cop who probably saved Carol’s life, is newly retired and sinking into depression.
Everyone’s lost in his or her own private hell, and eventually they all seek solace in unlikely pairings: Carol with Peter, Harry with Pretty, and Johnny with his withdrawal symptoms and some pretty vivid hallucinations. But the schematic nature of the script, and the limits it imposes on the characters, mean the movie’s dynamic becomes pretty obvious pretty quickly. If you don’t suss out the Really Big Twist about 15 minutes in, Paul Haggis has a bridge he’d like to sell you.
Gass-Donnelly does have a great rapport with his cast, who trust him enough to go all the way. Poole even had a tooth removed to play his deteriorating character. Personally, I’d have asked him not to, but you have to indulge your artists.