Ten year old Chris Marino (Devon Gearheart) lives in a blue-collar Florida beach town. His father John (Joe Pantoliano), is a carpenter and his mother Mary (Marcia Gay Harden), suffers from schizophrenia and paints her dreams onto canvas. When Mary's illness leads her to violence and endangers the entire family, John has no choice but to hospitalize the woman he loves. Unable to cope with his wife's illness, John immerses himself day and night into building a 7-metre yacht from scratch, neglecting his son and his job. It proves to be both a curse and a blessing.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Predominantly seen through the eyes of 10 year old Chris (Devon Gearheart), the Marino family's lot is not a happy one. His mother Mary (Marcia Gay Harden) behaves strangely, embarrassing him in front of his school friends; his father Jon (Joe Pantoliano) starts the neighbourhood talking when he starts building a boat on his driveway; and his need for attention is unmet.
If it weren't for the terrific performances, Canvas would be a dull and lifeless film; Marcia Gay Harden explores the schizophrenic character of Mary with a judicial technique that is both compassionate and credible. We ache for her pain as she recognises the barriers she has to face in being the mother she used to be. Joe Pantoliano is excellent as John, the carpenter whose job is in jeopardy, the last straw in his fight for control over his and his family's life. The sense of desperation is palpable. And young Devon Gearheart is a standout as Chris, delivering a wonderfully nuanced characterisation of a youngster in an impossible situation.
The screenplay stays downbeat for the length of the film, until a simplistic and unsatisfactory ending tries to reassure us that all will be well. In dramatic terms the screenplay is linear and unexceptional, relying on the insight into the family's fortunes - or otherwise - for all its pull. Competently made, there are not enough layers to make the film utterly compelling.
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CAST: Marcia Gay Harden, Joe Pantoliano, Devon Gearhart, Sophia Bairley, Paul Lasa, Darlene French-White, Marcus Johns, Antony Del Rio
PRODUCER: Luci Engibarian-Hemmel, Bill Erfurth, Sharon Lane, Joe Pantoliano
DIRECTOR: Joseph Greco
SCRIPT: Joseph Greco
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Rob Sweeney
EDITOR: Nina Kawasaki
MUSIC: Joel Goodman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Wiliam A. Cimino
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: All Interactive
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 8, 2007 (Qld, NSW)
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.