A Simple Curve Aubrey Nealon

An age-old Canadian dilemma gets an airing in this slight but engaging CanFilm, which is Yank pragmatism vs. Canuck obstinacy. The latter category is filled by Jim (Michael Hogan), an ex-hippie woodworker so obsessed with quality that he refuses to take lucrative jobs that might support him. The former is represented by his brother Matthew (Matt Craven), a businessman looking to lackadaisically furnish a high-end fishing lodge. Trapped between these two is Caleb (Kris Lemche), Jim's son and junior partner, who would like to support his father's commitment to craft if only he'd stop committing financial suicide.
 
Caleb upholds the centre of the national tug of war between giving it up to make a buck or standing firm and being destroyed by the organisation men, and for once, the movie tries a Hegelian synthesis instead of holding fast on a sinking ship. The film shows that both sides are completely impossible to accept unequivocally, and though the fizzle of an ending makes it Big Night with cabinets, the writing is unusually sharp for a CanFlick and never exactly loses your interest. Not that they don't try: Aubrey Nealon proves a better writer than a director, flubbing comic timing over and over while failing completely to establish a mood or dramatic tension.
 
But Lemche proves the live wire slack Canadiana has been waiting for (even if Hogan and Craven seem a tad casual in their performances), and the incursion of a couple of young hippies gets a few easy laughs. Though the style is nothing to shout about, it's still worth taking a look for the elaboration of an argument that's been going on since Confederation. (Domino/Peak)