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The Delicate Art of Parking (2003)

by on 2013/04/28

Delicate Art of Parking (2003)

“Sign me up!”

* * * *

After seeing The Delicate Art of Parking again, for what may be the fourth time, I mulled over how I was going to begin this review. I debated itemizing all the wonderful character moments, exploring the difficulty of doing it justice, or just talking about Corner Gas.

And then I re-read Gru’s review and thought, that pretty much says what I think.

If you take a few minutes to read that instead, what follows is frankly superfluous, but I need to at least give the semblance of completing my last review for the month.

In short, Delicate Art is a mockumentary about meter readers in Vancouver. The filmmakers follow Grant Parker (Fred Ewanuick of Dan for Mayor), a devout acolyte of elusive “guru” Murray Schwartz (Gary Jones of TV’s Stargate). With the help of friends in parking and law enforcement, Grant struggles to continue when his mentor becomes the focus of a bizarre conspiracy.

Most interesting to me was how the movie kept shifting gears so fluidly, never confusing. At first, it’s the director’s attempt at revenge for a backlog of fines. Then it explores the people who do a much-hated job. Eventually, the production crew begins to “cross over” with their subjects, generating conflict both on and off the screen

Familiar mockumentary elements appear – covert observation, interviews, and vox pops – but other aspects are more original: an ever-sprawling set of characters, each given moments to shine; a mystery to solve; a heist to pull off; a rare sense of humour which is irrationally “human” yet never mean-spirited.

The star – top billing notwithstanding – is easily Ewanuick. Having seen him play totally different types in both Corner Gas and Dan, I was once again impressed by his bearing here. His earnest, mild-mannered milquetoast is equally terrified and heroic. He’s flawed to be sure, though understandably so, compromising himself only in desperate moments and, even then, palpably regretting it.

Otherwise, The Delicate Art of Parking illustrates my frustration with writing about some features which I simply can’t do justice. In five hundred words I can’t possibly honour its breadth, its depth, or its fun. You’ll have to take my word for it and let its many rewards surprise you . . . like the sight of a slip of paper on your windshield, but in a good way.

* * * *

Rated 14A

87 minutes

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