Published Jun 18, 2009The thing about Victoria Day isn't that it's particularly bad or good; rather that it's a bastion of mediocrity and is almost completely forgettable in every way. It's too meek to incite anger or frustration and too generic and detached to inspire; it merely exists as a competent, visibly Canadian coming-of-age tale with a less than complex protagonist. It's the sort of thing that one might find on the CBC in between the Stanley Cup Playoffs and a particularly saucy episode of Corner Gas.
For the course of a week, following a 1988 Bob Dylan concert where a drug-using teen (Mitchell Amaral) goes missing, Ben (Mark Rendall) struggles with the guilt of potential involvement in the disappearance while coping with parental expectations and his sexual awakening. His Russian-Canadian father Yuri (Sergiy Kotelenets) pushes him towards hockey, thinking of scholarships and Wayne Gretzky, while teen vixen Melanie (Melanie Leishman) puts her junk on the table, despite Ben's affections for the younger Cayla (Holly Deveaux, the standout of the film).
Adult responsibilities, youthful larks and the difficult choice between virgin and slut plague Ben for the duration of the film, culminating in a teen catharsis that will likely mean more to a youthful crowd than an adult one.
The technical package is above average, with unobtrusive, stalwart direction and an understated ambiance that allows the unspoken truths to breathe, but clunky staging and flaky dialogue almost trump this achievement, again reinforcing the adequacy of it all. It's just too safe and perfunctory to mean much of anything.
Perhaps the intention was to open up patterns of teen angst to as broad an audience as possible by staging every Canadian and teen stereotype out there. In doing so, however, Victoria Day will leave an impression on very few, as a "general idea" is far less affecting than a nuanced and unique sensibility unafraid to distance some in its quest to connect with others. (E1)