The Drawer Boy’s film adaptation does the stage play justice

The scope remains intimate and the cast delivers rich, lived-in performances


THE DRAWER BOY (Arturo Pérez Torres, Aviva Armour-Ostroff) 98 minutes. Screens with the short The Things You Think I’m Thinking, March 22, 7 pm, Scotiabank Theatre. canfilmfest.ca. NNNN


The Drawer Boy is a sensitive adaptation of Michael Healey’s 1999 stage play (currently enjoying a remount at Theatre Passe Muraille) about the transformative power of art.

In the 1970s, Toronto actor Miles (Jakob Ehman) rooms with Huron County farmers Morgan (Richard Clarkin) and Angus (Stuart Hughes) to study their work for a collective play. But he unknowingly upsets the men’s friendship, causing Angus – who received a brain injury while the two men were in WWII – to start remembering things that contradict the stories Morgan has told him for decades.

The script, by Torres and Healey, fleshes out some details in the play, including a very amusing look at Miles’s rehearsal process. And the Southwestern Ontario landscape is captured in all its rugged beauty. But the scope remains intimate, and the actors deliver rich, lived-in performances.

Ehman’s wide-eyed naïveté feels authentic, while Hughes brings off his character’s transformation without a trace of sentimentality. Clarkin, his mouth barely moving, delivers some of the funniest lines, but also hints at his character’s fears and guilt. Bob Wiseman’s music underscores the rural feel, but the only flaw to the film is a distracting sound mix.

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