Published Apr 01, 2006Newcomer Aaron Webber plays Emerson Thorson, a home-educated adolescent sent to public school because of his poor math skills. His mother, Kaya (Rebecca Jenkins), instigates the change; his father, Rog (Robert Joy), is against it.
This is not your typical "closed" Maritime home. Emerson calls his parents by their first names, holds intelligent discussions with them and even has saunas naked! with them. The family even discusses his first wet dream at length.
Of course, our protagonist runs into problems, especially when he develops a crush on his gay English teacher Don (played by Daniel MacIvor). But that's where the predictability ends. MacIvor and Buchbinder (who shares the writing credit with MacIvor) make wise choices, defying typical "coming of age" conventions, negotiating sensitive (and potentially explosive) terrain with skill.
Don is portrayed as a human being with intimacy issues instead of an embarrassing stereotype, or worse, a predator, which could easily have happened if this story had been crafted by less enlightened hands. MacIvor is perfect as the 42-year-old teacher who chooses bathroom sex over rekindling his past relationship. And Weber's turn as Emerson makes it hard to believe this is his first starring role. In fact, the acting, directing and writing are in perfect balance.
The instrumental soundtrack is poignant, not unlike Mychael Danna's score for Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter. But the vocal tracks are awkward, especially "I Believe in the Good of Life" by the Hidden Cameras.
But this is a small problem and does little to taint the rest of the film. So mark my words: you'll be seeing more of MacIvor, Webber and Whole New Thing at Genie time. (Th!nk)