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Grown Up Movie Star (2009)

by on 2013/07/31

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“I wish my parents would cheat on each other and get drug problems.”

* * *

A cheating mother with delusions of celebrity and wealth. A father with a secret. An angry teenage girl.

Just set up a camera and the drama creates itself, right?

I know there’s nothing quite like a dysfunctional family to create an all-shouting, all-screaming slice of cinéma vérité.

The trouble is that all this ensuing angst isn’t very easy to watch. But you can’t stop even if you wanted to – rather like not being able to take your eyes (and ears) off of that couple fighting at the mall.

There’s a painful, heart-blenderizing authenticity in this film. The realism depicted here is often ugly and troubling. Fortunately I don’t need my art to be easy or beautiful to look at.

Written and directed by Adriana Maggs, there are scenes in this movie starring the crazy-good Tatiana Maslany, who plays the rebellious Ruby, and Shawn Doyle, who plays her father, a former NHL player with a secret life, that will stay with me for a very long time.

Set in Newfoundland, this film gets in really close to a family in crisis, examining the life and hard times of 13-year-old Ruby. Her family is in tatters. Her dad’s a convict and disgraced hockey player. Her mom’s walked out to pursue fame and fortune – which looks a lot more like drugs and casual sex.

All Ruby has left are her fantasies of fame and fortune.

I grew up in a small town and Maggs has the ennui and restlessness of that experience nailed. There’s the constant talk of “getting out,” the sheepishness of living in a backward town, that’s “nowhere” with no future. There’s also the pitch-perfect capture of what happens when someone dresses or acts even a little bit unusually in that setting (ask me about the time I wore a 1940s coat with mink collar to high school).

Kudos to Maggs for all of it. If my beloved teenager Miss_Tree ever asks me what being a small-town teenager is like, I am going to show her this film.

This movie is anything but pat formula and coming-of-age cliché. The dialogue is quirky and laugh out loud funny in places. There are no clear villains, no clear heroes, everyone is a murkier shade of grey than the particle board walls of the grim homes in which the characters live.

The undercurrent of sexuality running throughout is gritty, grimy and anything but romanticized. Sequences are at once bleak, troubling and then somehow, funny and hopeful.

Grown Up Movie Star made me glad Hacker Renders selected Canadian dramas this month, and even gladder I have Netflix. Check this solid Canadian film out.

* * *

95 minutes

Rated 18A for sexuality, language

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  1. A Goth’s Month in Review: July 2013 | Geek vs Goth

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