BY MICHELLE MEDFORD
Can I call this movie masculinist without being misunderstood? What I mean is, this movie is about a single dad dealing with the repercussions of his wife cheating on him with a teenager (namely, her student). It’s about trying to be the best father he can while trying to understand and deal with his emotions. It’s a perspective of men rarely represented in film. So this is what I mean by masculinist: This film shows us that the nurturing, emotional man is not weak.
I’ve been pretty excited about this film. Pontypool is one of the greatest zombie films of all-time and, against popular opinion, I also love The Tracey Fragments–needless to say I’m a fan of director Bruce McDonald (plus he’s from my ‘hood, but that’s just personal). The Husband did not disappoint.
What’s unique about this movie, which is what I love about McDonald’s directing style, is its pace. It’s all about the details and he wants to give you the time to take it all in. Not to mention, this film in particular is on such heavy subject matter (teacher-student relations, adultery, single parenthood, etc.), that you really do need the time to take it in and think about what’s going on. This movie stayed to McDonald’s signature style in other ways too. It was often dark, cold and quiet, again fitting with the themes of the film.
Maxwell McCabe-Lokos’ acting as the titular husband is the perfect pairing with McDonald’s style. Henry, the husband, is often deep in thought, but with such limited dialogue throughout the film, you’re not quite sure what he’s thinking (and at times, his character isn’t either). His thoughts are rather defined by his (sometimes bizarre) actions and left to interpret. It’s reflective of real life. There are only so many ways of verbally or physically expressing what you’re thinking and feeling, especially when dealing with painful emotions, that outsiders are just left to interpret as best they can, or maybe not even at all.
Toronto also plays Toronto, which is every Torontonian’s favourite thing to see in movies filmed in Toronto (have I said Toronto enough?). Like in many movies and TV shows filmed in Canada (by both our own and American directors), our cities act as different cities in order to expand their reach internationally (namely, in the U.S.). But this film is proudly Torontonian. See: Honest Ed’s, the AGO, The Santa Claus Parade, etc. It’s just nice to see Canadian films not ashamed to be Canadian.
Raw and deep, like the worst of wounds–both physical and emotional–this film is worth the watch, especially for McDonald fans, Torontonians and anyone looking for an often neglected representation of men on screen.
P.S. Stephen McHattie is in it too.
The Husband opens in Toronto on March 14, Vancouver on March 21, and more dates in major Canadian cities coming soon.