Don’t Get Killed in Alaska Bill Taylor
Published Nov 06, 2014The transition into adulthood is one that's populated with many formative experiences, and the most frustrating thing about Don't Get Killed in Alaska is that it takes place in the relatively dull and uneventful time between two of these for its protagonist. Instead of the thrill of a young woman venturing out on her own for the first time, we get a handful of long familial conversations that rarely unearth anything beyond the clichéd and mundane.
When we first meet Liney (Tommie-Amber Pirie), she's waiting in the car while her boyfriend Dan (Ben Lewis) is being ripped off for the money they just made planting trees in the Maritimes. He's involved in drug dealing and owes money to some dangerous people in a backstory that's never really fully explained beyond the fact that it motivates the two young lovers to discuss vague plans to travel to Alaska and work on a boat. She decides to seek advice and, more importantly, money from her family.
She first meets with her mother (Rosemary Dunsmore), temporarily warming up their icy relationship with wine before old wounds become too overwhelming. She then visits her brother Rob (Gianpaolo Venuta), who hardly approves of her voyage to Alaska but still agrees to write a cheque to help her out. Returning home to her father (Oliver Dennis) in the Prairies, she struggles to get out from under his thumb and follow through on her plans with Dan.
For a film that consists almost entirely of dialogue and is nearly devoid of plot, one would hope that the conversations would be more absorbing than this. The extended scenes play like short films of their own, hinting at deep and weathered relationships but ultimately circling around the same familiar issues. Director Bill Taylor, who also wrote the screenplay, makes a valiant effort to turn the constraints of a low budget into an intimate character study, but there's not enough happening here to keep viewers invested.
The actors certainly do what they can with the material, though. Pirie can't help but bring to mind Ellen Page, with the same gift for portraying young women who are tough as nails in one moment and shatter to pieces in the next. She and her co-stars bring depth to their roles and help make lines that might appear stilted on the page somehow ring true.
It's not a good sign, though, that when we leave Liney, we sense she's headed on an extraordinary journey that would likely make a better movie than this one.
(First Love Films)