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Six Figures (2005)

by on 2010/08/10

Six Figures’ Warner (JR Bourne) is having a lousy time.

Money troubles. Whiny kids. Nagging wife. Harpy mother in law.

His parents don’t even like him much.

To make matters worse, he’s just started a job at a non-profit named M.O.R.E. that has more than a few skeletons in the closet. Skyrocketing real estate prices in Calgary have priced his dream home out of reach. His wife and mother in law are losing patience with his crummy rental home.

Six Figures is a long, dark spelunk into the depths of gasping, flailing male inadequacy. A long uncomfortable take of Warner and his wife Claire (Caroline Cave) bickering quietly over the asking price of a new home (while a helmet-haired realtor with a phony smile eavesdrops) twists the knife.

Warner’s smarmy superior also emasculates him, suggesting his future at M.O.R.E. is less than certain. In a moment of strained levity, Claire quips: “It could be worse, we could be laying cable or cleaning carpets.”

The use of huge swaths of silence and the painful realism of the subject matter make Six Figures an uncomfortable watch. Who among us haven’t had the condescending chat with our so-called superior or a money spat with a partner? Director David Christensen captures these moments with steely accuracy.

In the early goings, Warner suffers all of these indignities in twitchy stride, until his wife is bludgeoned on the head (Maxwell Silver Hammer-style) while working alone at her job at in art gallery.

Did Warner do it? We aren’t sure. His parents aren’t sure. Only his mother in law wants to believe he’s done it.

The uncertainty is undeniably creepy. Is Warner capable of cracking his wife’s skull with a hammer? The viewer finds herself watching Warner for a sign — any sign.

In one scene, we get an uncomfortably close look at Warner’s face, overexposed by sunlight. He’s driving, his young children in the back seat. With every whimper and scream from his irritable kids, we see Warner’s face twitch. The scene is terrifying.

Six Figures is a masterful, blunt force whodunit by director David Christensen. The mystery of this film will stay with you for days — and so will the gloom.

* * *

Rated 14A

108 minutes

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