Mount Pleasant Ross Weber

Set in the titular Vancouver neighbourhood, where the bourgeois rub shoulders with the drugged-out and destitute, Ross Weber’s sophomore effort is just smart and even-handed enough to make me wish I liked it a little more.

His swirl of characters certainly has promise. There’s the new home-owning couple (Benjamin Ratner and Camille Sullivan), whose daughter may have been infected by a dirty needle, a wealthy real estate agent (Shawn Doyle) with a yen for teenage prostitutes, his shallow wife (The O.C.’s Kelly Rowan) and angry teenage daughter (Genevieve Buchner), and the teen hooker (Katie Boland), who would skip off to Thailand with her junkie-pimp boyfriend if he weren’t such an undependable train wreck.

Weber initially gets credit for his generous attitude towards his characters; though their beliefs and approaches are often as misguided as their overlapping stories, they still manage to seem like fragile human clay rather than the subjects of shame that such films usually concoct. Though Rowan’s character gets the bum’s rush as the standard, nitpicky, rich bitch mom, everybody else has the usual Renoir reasons for the things that they do to defend themselves and carve out a place in the neighbourhood.

Still, such tales could be told a little more forcefully than they are here — everything is so low-key and quietly edited that it fails to make things seem as important as they are. Ratner shines as the beleaguered patriarch struggling to make his house safe for his daughter, giving electric sympathy to a highly ambiguous character. I wish his energy spilled over into the rest of the film, which could use a bit more of a jolt. (Christal)