Published Oct 31, 2013When All the Wrong Reasons opens, married couple James (Cory Monteith) and Kate (Karine Vanasse) are having a difficult time connecting. She's suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress that incites terror whenever the prospect of physical contact with another human being arises, which isolates and limits her to a job surveilling the security cameras at the department store that James manages.
With Kate shrinking away at the prospect of physical intimacy, James—whose compassion for his wife's ailment is already subsiding when we're introduced to him—focuses on his career and the potential for landing a new job at his employer's head office in Toronto. It's indirectly a passive-aggressive move, furthering his own career—the one thing he's been able to control—while forcing his wife into a busy metropolis where physical contact is unavoidable.
This marital dynamic, one that surely evolved over the year since Kate developed her condition, is only given a cursory handling before being eschewed in favour of completely divergent stories involving single mother Nicole (Emily Hampshire) and recently dismembered firefighter Simon (Kevin Zegers).
Nicole, a cashier at James' Zellers-like department store, is a crappy mom with no money. She's reckless and cavalier with her actions and finances, leaving her baby on the doorstep of her sitter after an argument about lack of payment leaves her in a bind. She's also readily available and eager for any form of male validation, which makes her ideal for the sexually frustrated James, whose selfishness is tempered only by his humourlessness.
Drawing a similar ideological and moral connection are Kate and Simon, a security guard at the department store. While she struggles to step outside of her comfort zone and find ways to express physical intimacy with her husband, Simon tries to adapt to life with only one arm, using a hook to feed and clothe himself when not training to surpass the physical obstacles associated with being a one-armed firefighter.
The parallel being drawn by Gia Milani in her freshman feature isn't subtle. Simon and Kate establish a sense of emotional intimacy, drawing from shared worldly struggles, ideologies and disappointments, while Nicole and James embrace their surface physicality, screwing to fulfill their own needs, both motivated entirely by selfish pursuits. As presented, the disconnect between James and Kate—his inability to relate emotionally and her inability to relate physically—is what draws them to their mirrored counterparts, Nicole and Simon; for all the wrong reasons, they discover who they really are, which is as beneficial for her as it is problematic for him.
That Kate's emotional connection with another person—regardless of acting on it physically (which she doesn't)—is likely more detrimental to her marriage than the shallow physical one her husband is engaging in isn't really considered. The morality presented here is as broad and unambiguous as Milani's competent but flat (very much like a network television drama) direction. All the Wrong Reasons often hints at complex drama, something that stems mostly from nuanced performances and complex characterizations from most of the cast, but tends more towards surface melodrama and tenuous comedy.
The victims here are as clearly defined as the villains, which would be fine if Milani embraced the hyperbolized constrains of genre film, embracing either comedy or cheap melodrama, but this mediocre, occasionally inspired film falls into a middle ground, having too little vision and thematic complexity to succeed in the art house capacity it seems to be striving for. (Pacific Northwest Pictures)