Marion Bridge Wiebke von Carolsfeld

Marion Bridge Wiebke von Carolsfeld
The first feature film from German born and raised Wiebke Von Carolsfeld, an editor of various Canadian projects, including The Bay Of Love And Sorrows and The Five Senses, Marion Bridge was the 2002 winner of the Toronto Film Festival's Best Canadian First Feature. Adapted for the screen by Daniel MacIvor from his award-winning play, and shot primarily in Halifax, Marion Bridge tells the tale of Agnes, one of those crazy folks who decides to leave the down-home charms of Cape Breton life for the urban lures of Toronto and now must return to her past haunts to help her two sisters cope with the approaching smoking-induced death of their mother. Seen as brash and irresponsible by her older and younger sisters (Rebecca Jenkins and Stacy Smith), and also a recently reformed alcoholic, Agnes takes her mother out of the hospital and back to their family home to live out her days while also developing the real storyline, a Chinatown thread of childhood parental abuse. Eventually the sisters' mother dies, Agnes has a one-night relapse binge (with Ashley MacIssac and Heather Rankin, no less), and all three sisters confront their now incapacitated father before coming to terms with each other and Agnes' daughter and foster mother. But unlike the inside of the movie's narrative, not all is well with this film, beginning with the story itself, a melodramatic tale that never visually manages to capture anything with authority or real poignancy. The performances are fine, if rather straight, but it's the ultimately un-dramatic situations that suck the life from the film — instead of anger, confusion and despair beneath the surface of each life, we watch Smith's character watch TV while Agnes cleans house and berates her for watching TV; and the details are lost because their representations are simply boring. Death and abuse are also coated over quickly and not confronted in a personal manner. The DVD commentary by von Carolsfeld and Parker is reserved for behind the scenes anecdotes and an appreciation for the cast and crew. In other words, it's about as safe and bland as the rest of the film. Plus: theatrical trailer, cast interviews, bios, photo gallery. (Mongrel Media)