Cloudburst – film review.
The conceit of Cloudburst, the latest film by Thom Fitzgerald (The Hanging Garden) is a refreshingly new one. It doesn’t involve young buxom 20-somethings searching for meaning in their lives, car chases or explosions. What is does involve is two of the film world’s most respected veteran actors, Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Ficker staring in what is ostensibly a road-trip flick.
The story opens on two lesbians, Stella (Dukakis) and Dot (Fricker), whose combined age, we are told, add up to about 140 years. They have shared a home and a life together in Maine for 31 years. After Dot takes a fall, her meddling, clueless granddaughter (played by Canadian Kristin Booth) decides it’s time for her to be placed into a nursing home.
Distraught that the love of her life could so callously and unkindly be taken away from her, Stella devises a plan to spring Dot from the nursing home. For Stella, the only course of action left, is to take Dot to Nova Scotia where gay marriage is legal and get hitched so that they can’t be separated. If you’re a fan of the ever-ubiquitous mash-up craze, then go ahead and think of this as a mash-up of Thelma and Louise and On Golden Pond.
One of the most wonderful aspects of the film is the undeniable chemistry and connection that these brilliant screen veterans (Dukakis and Fricker) share. With one look at one another, we see the love that Stella and Dot have shared and the life they have built with each other. However, where the film falters, is in its execution.
Cloudburst seems to suffer from an identity crisis. The film, never quite stabilizes in tone. Or perhaps Fitzgerald couldn’t decide what kind of film he wanted to make? Did he want it to be a raunchy comedy, a sweet rom-com, a road trip buddy film, or a belated coming of age tale? Jumping from sub-genre to sub-genre proved confusing and ultimately takes away some of the fun of the movie.
Granted, there are funny moments in this film, and they are often provided by Stella, who has got to be one of the most foul-mouthed retirees in recent film history. In a particular scene when a catty, hairnet wearing waitress mistakes Stella for a man, Stella looks her up and down and smugly retorts, “You know, if that skirt was any shorter, you’d need another hair net.” That is how delightfully off-colour Stella’s character can be. Frankly, Dukakis had to deliver some dialogue in this film that would have made American Pie’s Stifler blush.
Tone issues and some momentum loss towards the end aside, the real beauty of Cloudburst is seeing Dukakis and Fricker (and the young hitchhiker they pick up en route) chew up the scenery on their way to be wed in Nova Scotia.
Here is a clip from Cloudburst:
Cloudburst is screening Fri May 25 th, 2012 in Toronto as part of the Inside Out Film Festival. The screening starts at 7:15 PM, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, in Cinema 1.Tags:Brenda Ficker, Cloudburst, Film, Inside Out Film Festival, Nova Scotia, Olympia Dukakis, Renee Olbert, Reviews, Roadtrip, Thom Fitzgerald