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VIFF 2014: 'October Gale' Is A Balanced Film With Complex Characters

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Toronto-based doctor Helen Matthews (Patricia Clarkson) is mourning the loss of her husband (Callum Keith Rennie) and retreats to their family cottage in Georgian Bay, Ontario to process what has happened. Having never ventured to the remote island alone, she quickly familiarizes herself with how to navigate the waters and warm the century-old cottage, despite painful flashbacks of the memorable moments she and her husband spent there.

One stormy night, Helen hears a boat that seems to have washed ashore and heads to her dock to investigate. When she returns to her cottage she finds a young man, Will (Scott Speedman), on the floor of her living room bleeding heavily from a superficial gunshot wound. Helen treats him and allows him to rest until he awakes the next morning, only to learn that the man who shot him won't let up until he's finished the job.

"October Gale", written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Ruba Nadda, tells the story of two people lost, but who together are somehow found. Helen and Will live in completely different realities, but find solace in each other's vulnerabilities and mutual attraction.

You'll like this film if..
You're into a good psychological thriller that's light on the bang-em-up but heavy on complex characters with a lot of depth. It's a perfectly balanced film that will make your heart race at some moments and make you cry at others.

You won't like this film if..
You're into psychological thrillers with more action. The pace of this film is mindful of the lead character's state of mourning, so don't expect suspense from start to finish. But the build up is well worth it.

Standout performance
Clarkson is at her finest in this film. Her character's devotion to her late husband and strength to survive will have you hooked from the opening scene, but it's the chemistry between her and Speedman that will really draw you in.

Tim Roth delivers a riveting performance, deliciously sinister and haunting, adding to the suspense of this drama by one of Canada's most exciting directors. Cinematographer Jeremy Benning also gets props for translating the rugged beauty of Georgian Bay into a vast and majestic setting that was perfectly suited to this film.

"October Gale" is one of many must-see Canadian films screening during VIFF. Visit viff.org for Canadian Images tickets and showtimes.

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