Urban Cinefile
"To me, cinema is fantasy and the volume has been turned up "  -director Aleksi Vellis
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday, December 5, 2017 

Search SEARCH FOR A VIDEO_FILE
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

WAYDOWNTOWN

SYNOPSIS:
From a high-rise office tower in Calgary a clutch of twentysomething workers have embarked on a competition to see who can endure the longest within the confines of the office-mall-subway network. Itís day 24, and the competitors are nearing breaking-point.


Review by Paul Kalina:
Young Canadian filmmaker Gary Burns turns a day in the life of a handful of office workers into a darkly comic and satirical joke about how their suffocating and eerily inhumane existence inspires each into extremes of waywardness and aberrant eccentricity.†

The film stems from the simplest of concepts. Young corporate shlepper Tom (Fabrizio Filippo) has wagered one monthís salary that he can endure longer than his colleagues in the interconnected complex of office, apartment and mall. His partners in this prank include paper-pushing nerd Brad (Don McKellar), the highly-strung neurotic Sandra (Marya Delver), predatory playboy Curt (Gordon Currie), while at the periphery of their odd scheme are a kleptomaniac octogenarian boss, a Clark Kent-like security guard, a sharp-tongued receptionist, another memory-challenged worker Ö Get the drift?

They play odd pranks on each other, the males chase skirt, they bicker about each otherís habits. They dress in the ubiquitous corporate uniform of dark shirts and ties, though their actual jobs or duties are never specified. Lunchtime on the 24th day presents Tom with a new challenge when he is called upon to tail the boss and return the goods he filches from the shops in the mall. With nothing better to do, he plays a cruel joke on a stranger. Bit by bit, the creeping horror of his own and the othersí suffocating, disconnected and dreary lives hatches within him fantasies of escape and possible redemption.†

Shot entirely on digital video and marked by subtly jarring and jumpy edits, Burns uses his well-drawn characters and the palpably airless environment to turn this groundhog day scenario into a wry parable of an urban hell. Even at a brisk 80 minutes the narrative is stretched to the limit, but to Burnsí credit he uses the digital format to create a strange, discombobulated aura of fear, dread and comedy. A gag film with a mordant underbelly, or a sly depiction of a numbing urban existence? You decide.

Much as viewers may appreciate Burns' conceits and the shadings he gives to the workaday rituals of modern life, his characters and their relationships never move beyond the film's stridently 'jokey' surface. The rewards one might rightly expect of a feature film are barely there.

Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

WAYDOWNTOWN (M15+)
(Canada)

CAST: Fab Filippo, Don McKellar, Marya Delver, Gordon Currie, Jennifer Clement, Tammy Isbell

PRODUCER: Gary Burns, Shirley Vercruysse

DIRECTOR: Gary Burns

SCRIPT: Gary Burns, James Martin

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Patrick McLaughlin

EDITOR: Mark Lemmon

MUSIC: John Abram

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Donna Brunsdale

RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Level 4 Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne: December 5, 2002 (other states to follow)







© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017