how much of a future is there for an actor whose principal quality is her ability to convey exquisitely sullen resentment?We're all supposed to admire and respect Molly Parker's work, but I'm beginning to dread seeing her name in the credits of a film. She's gained the attention of some rather good directors -- Michael Winterbottom, Wayne Wang, Bruce Pittman -- and there are years when she seems to be in every movie at the film festival, but I have trouble naming a contemporary Canadian actor whose work gives me less pleasure.
It takes someone like William Hurt and his genius for brooding withdrawal to drag her out of her shell. So why hasn't anyone opened Sturla Gunnarson's Rare Birds, the comedy featuring Hurt and Parker and Andy Jones, from this year's Toronto International Film Festival?
Now that's a movie with spark, feeling and a great comic wild card in Codco's Andy Jones. It's far more deserving of distribution than The War Bride, which feels like half a dozen CBC movies of the week.
Anna Friel (Land Girls) plays a fun-loving Londoner who marries a Canadian soldier and gets shipped off to spark up the lives of her dour Canadian in-laws. They include Academy Award winner Brenda Fricker (My Left Foot) and Parker, who limps along with a leg brace and hates her new sister-in-law because of her sense of style.
The film's narrative and historical continuity flaws, which are many and varied, are annoying enough. Why, for example, would someone try to add an indoor bathroom to the house without first digging down and setting the pipes? And how come it's always damp autumn, or maybe spring, even though the film seems to cover two or three years in an isolated Alberta farmhouse? And what do they grow on that farm anyway?
But most appalling is the native self-loathing at the heart of this film. Canadians are basically dour, hateful people who need to loosen up a little through the influence of a lively foreigner. Oh, goody. We're the Swedes of North America. Again.
THE WAR BRIDE directed by Lyndon Chubbuck, written by Angela Workman, produced by Alistair MacLean-Clark and Doug Bergquist, with Anna Friel, Brenda Fricker, Molly Parker, Aden Young and Loren Dean. 115 minutes. A Harvest Pictures Production. A Film Circuit Presentation. Opens Friday (December 7). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 95. Rating: NN