Normal Carl Bessai

Normal Carl Bessai
It’s from Canada. It’s called Normal. What are the chances that the title would be ironic? Sure enough, Carl Bessai’s latest is a bubbling pot of dysfunction served with a side order of guilt and made with a recipe of confusion that tastes an awful lot like turmoil. Which I guess would be fine if it was thinking of anything more than the muddled faux seriousness that kills so much CanCon.

An obligatory traumatic event (the killing of a high schooler in a car wreck) is employed to send Normal’s characters into emotional tailspins. There’s the kid (Kevin Zegers) who was driving the stolen car with the victim; the university prof (Callum Keith Rennie) who was part of the accident; the mother (Carrie-Anne Moss) who can’t let go of her dead son’s memory; and various siblings, lovers, girlfriends and autistic sons affected by the affected. Come to think of it, "affected” is a good way to describe the movie, which seems less like it was ripped from the gut of Bessai and more like it was arbitrarily thrown together to justify a grant.

Nothing in the film has been thought through. The characters are clichés with one trait each, which they flog mercilessly, the dialogue is a series of thesis statements with no real flavour and to top it off, all the men are sullen and uncharismatic, but mysteriously manage to attract hot women regardless.

With all the shouting, screwing and acting out, the film could very easily be a soap opera, but then it would be expecting you to enjoy yourself. This is Canada. Fun is illegal in Canada. (Mongrel Media)