TORONTO STORIES (Aaron Woodley, Sook-Yin Lee, Sudz Sutherland, David Weaver) Rating: N
You rarely see an anthology film as consistent as Toronto Stories; the trouble is, Toronto Stories is consistently bad. It's a plodding, uninspired collection of four short films - each written and directed by a well-regarded local filmmaker - that never rise above mildly engaging, are often just plain lousy and fail to use the city in any creative or interesting way.
The underachieving tone is set by Aaron Woodley's twee Shoelaces, a Stand By Me riff about two young friends defying bullies, abusive parents and their own fears to look for a monster in the tunnels of Riverdale, and by Sook-Yin Lee's mannered The Brazilian, about a neurotic singleton (Lee) trying to determine whether a withdrawn friend (Tygh Runyan) is into her.
Next, Sudz Sutherland's flat Windows finds a window washer (K.C. Collins) reconnecting with an old buddy (Joris Jarsky) who drags him into an armed standoff over a former flame (Carly Pope) in Forest Hill.
It's all supposed to come to a head in David Weaver's Lost Boys, which finds a decrepit crack addict (Gil Bellows) trying to save a little mute boy (Toka Murphy, who makes brief appearances in all four stories) who may or may not have been abducted at Union Station. That scenario was absolutely harrowing in Lodge Kerrigan's 2004 drama Keane, but it teeters on laughable here thanks to Bellows's overacting. It's very nicely lit, though.
Opens Friday (December 12) at the Royal.