STRYKER (Noam Gonick). 93 minutes. Opens Friday (July 22) at the Carlton. For times, see page 87. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Winnipeg may be the best place in Canada to be an artist. Rents are cheap, grants are plentiful, and the cultural collisions are stark and frequent enough to provide a life's worth of material. Noam Gonick 's Winnipeg is completely different from Guy Maddin's, but just as rich.
Following up on Hey, Happy!, Gonick returns to his favoured Winnipeg rough trade setting in Stryker . But this time he channels his Jewish queer trickster aesthetic through a more earnest story of how marginalized people crash and burn. In his own peculiar version of the classic prairie coming-of-age tale, he tells the story of a young aboriginal arsonist who moves to the big city and falls in with thugged-out native and Filipino gangs and tough-talking trannies.
The film is shot by Ed Lachman , the cinematographer of Far From Heaven, Erin Brockovich, The Virgin Suicides and The Limey. It looks great, especially the snowscapes that bookend the film. But if Stryker works best as a look inside a cross-pollinated subculture, dramatically it fails. The acting is wildly uneven, and the lead ( Kyle Henry ) is a cipher. Overlook those details and it's a fantastic imagining of an ethnically and sexually stir-fried nation that in fact exists in parts of Winnipeg.