Sage Parsley Days

Low-budget pic out of Halifax flaunts girl knowledge

Rating: NNNNN

kate’s pregnant. she’s dating a sensitive, attentive birth-control guru — one of Halifax’s prized “male lesbians” — and she’s pregnant. How ironic is that?

She wants an abortion but can’t wait the three weeks for an appointment. So an herbalist friend suggests a mega-parsley diet to induce a miscarriage. This is Halifax’s north end, where, apparently, parsley is cheap and herbalist friends are thick on the ground.

Andrea Dorfman’s Parsley Days is quirky like that. “Quirky” is likely the word Dorfman most hates, but the film trips along on a beam of deadpan idiosyncrasy, and there’s no other word for it.

This is a movie about a girl and her bicycle, a couple and their canoe, a woman and the fetus growing inside her. A romantic comedy. In what may be Dorfman’s best move, Kate’s desire to have an abortion isn’t questioned or lionized or problematized. It just is.

Parsley Days is often a delight to watch, though it feels low-budget. Its scenes are underpopulated, and its look is plain, without ever finding beauty in plainness. Dorfman also photographed the film, and relies too much on flat-on, centred, brightly lit compositions. They deflate visual interest.

But then, Parsley Days is low-budget like an indie rock song. What it lacks in money and experience, it makes up in frank, dry-eyed expression. The soundtrack follows suit. It’s full of Halifax bands and singer-songwriters, concluding with a nice, wistful cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s Early Morning Rain.

And it’s got great girl knowledge. Kate’s friend Lila accompanies her to the abortion clinic and presents her with a card — “Other Things to Think About While You Have an Abortion.” Dorfman crafts this sequence beautifully.

Still, I wish I felt more from Kate. Despite the intimate camera work and Kate’s voice-over, the film never gets too far inside her head or heart.

There’s a veil of whimsy that separates us from this woman. And it’s impregnable.

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