BLOOD PRESSURE (Sean Garrity). 94 minutes. Opens Friday (March 15). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
Sean Garrity tries to add psychological thrills to the mid-life crisis drama genre, but ends up making a film with a major identity problem.
Nicole (Stratford's Michelle Giroux) is a 40-something woman in a wealthy Toronto suburb who's bored with her job at a pharmacy and increasingly alienated from her businessman husband (Judah Katz) and two kids (Jake Epstein and Tatiana Maslany). When mysterious letters start appearing, written by someone who knows her better than anyone else, she's intrigued and, prodded by her anonymous pen pal, soon begins spying, breaking into homes and learning how to shoot guns.
The premise opens up all sorts of rich themes about coercion and female empowerment. It's telling that Nicole's being bullied by her boss at work and that Maslany's character is fearful of being criticized.
But the script swerves around some odd and incongruous plot points to arrive, anti-climactically, at its end, and you can sense Giroux, solid throughout, struggling with her character's motivation. She's not helped by Jonas Chernick's wooden turn as a man she's supposed to be trailing.
Visually, the film has a quiet beauty and a sinister edge, although Garrity's decision to scribble text from Nicole's letters onto the scenery feels like a director not trusting his material.