A SIMPLE CURVE (Aubrey Nealon). 92 minutes. Opens Friday (November 3). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Like the symbolic handmade wooden chairs that figure prominently in its plot, A Simple Curve is attractive and well crafted. Too bad it's not a bit more original.
Aubrey Nealon 's debut feature looks at father and son Jim ( Michael Hogan ) and Caleb ( Kris Lemche ), who together run a small carpentry shop in BC's scenic Kootenays. Despite Caleb's sensible advice, Jim refuses to compromise on craftsmanship, and the business is suffering.
Enter Matthew ( Matt Craven ), Jim's friend and fellow Vietnam War resister, who used to have a thing for Jim's now-dead wife. When Caleb and Matthew secretly collaborate on a business scheme, old wounds reopen, and the somewhat directionless Caleb is forced to make some serious choices.
If you're into carpentry or scenic landscapes, you'll be engrossed by the film, which has a weekend-channel-surfing feel: part home improvement show, part eco-travelogue.
A couple of clever lines satirize the back-to-the-earth hippie movement, especially one involving the consumption of a placenta. And the denouement has a surprise or two.
But Nealon's script is full of holes. We never really know who Jim and Matthew are and what they stand for, and there's no emotional centre. A subplot involving a couple of neo-hippies feels contrived.
That said, rising star Lemche manages to create a likeable, believable 20-something man who learns to stand up to authority and carve out some kind of individuality.