Published Apr 23, 2009What might be the greatest achievement of Only, veteran Canuck actors Simon Reynolds and Ingrid Veninger's feature-length directorial debut, is that it captures the sense of nascent tween disappointment and confusion in a way that neither trivializes nor idealizes it. Rather it exists as a naturalistic transitory period that most can easily identify with.
The film is deceptively simple, following 12-year-old Daniel (Jacob Switzer) and 13-year-old Vera (Elena Hudgins Lyle) through a single day of unsupervised exploration of Parry Sound. As Daniel's parents own the motel that Vera's parents are staying at, their youthful union and bond are only temporary, ending when Vera gets back on the road to Brampton with her depressive father and alcoholic mother.
This impending end acts as more than a mere parting of ways for the despondent youths, also signifying a hesitant step towards an unflattering and somewhat inflexible future of mortal awareness, arbitrary rules and endless disappointments.
While nothing really happens in the film, aside from some fumbling realizations through conversation, the deliberate juxtaposition of topics reveal overall intent in a manner that's ultimately constructed, but thankfully not forced or awkward. For example, when the kids discuss Vera's move to Brampton for her father's big corporate job in Toronto, the topic almost immediately shifts to that of robots and rigidity, suggesting an overall opinion of soulless Bay Street sycophants.
This is continuous throughout the film, as the children discuss their greatest fears, desert island dreams and parental disappointments and anxieties; it's smart but slight, and perhaps only relevant to the art house crowd. Regardless, it is difficult to deny the talent behind the camera, as the handling of inexperienced child actors and seemingly banal environments shows an understanding and experience far beyond that of most independent cinema. (pUNK Films)