Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald unflinchingly exposes the dark side of human nature in his film The Husband, which will be screening at the Broadway Theatre during the first week of April.
McDonald directed The Husband under the umbrella of Toronto-based independent movie production company Scythia Films.
Scythia was created by Daniel Bekerman, winner of the Toronto Film Critics Association Jay Scott Award. Bekerman is considered one of Canada’s most promising modern filmmakers, as his movies are made with the intention of exciting and challenging his audience.
Bekerman’s company gives small-time directors and screenwriters a chance to have their work recognized and appreciated by film critics and viewers alike.
Scythia Films is also known for specializing in the unconventional and unexplored, as evident in their slogan “Everything has not been done.” The Husband proves to be no exception to this rule.
Starring Max McCabe-Lokos, Jodi Balfour and August Diehl the film —though categorized as a “dark comedy” — offers few moments of genuine humour. An account of Henry Andreas’ struggle to raise his baby as a single parent after his wife’s infidelity, the movie seems to open on a pretty standard note in terms of marital discord — that is until you realize that his wife cheated on him with a 14-year-old boy and is currently serving hard time for it.
Essentially Orange is the New Black thrown down the rabbit hole, The Husband follows the story of Henry and his wife Alyssa by bouncing between their lives as they unfold in and outside of the prison.
The film makes masterful use of the power of human memory by putting its audience at the mercy of Henry’s tortured visions as he attempts to cope with the shambles that his life has been left in. The viewer is dragged back and forth at a dizzying pace, jumping from past to present and fact to fiction. At times it is impossible to tell what is really happening and what is simply a figment of Henry’s imagination.
Despite the fact that it often causes the viewer to question Henry’s sanity — as well as their own judgement of character — it is difficult not to root for him during his downward spiral.
The camera forces the audience to watch as he makes the most cringe-worthy of blunders, trailing him from cyber-stalking to full blown middle-school stakeouts. The Husband often feels more like a sports match than a movie, as you find yourself yelling “What are you doing?!” and “Nooooo!” at the unresponsive TV.
Certainly not for the faint of heart, the film unearths the darkest of human thoughts and motives with a gritty brand of realism. McDonald’s exploration of consciousness is capable of leaving an unclean feeling in the mind that at times makes it tempting to look away from the screen or shut the movie off entirely.
Ultimately a tale of redemption, The Husband proves the classic theory that in order to reach the top, you must first hit rock bottom. The most powerful of films are those that refuse to sugar-coat the truth or coddle the viewer.
Though it may not be a light-hearted or easy watch, The Husband is undeniably an edgy and artistic piece that displays the scope of subject matter tackled in independent Canadian filmmaking.
The Husband will be showing at the Broadway Theatre from April 1-7. Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information visit broadwaytheatre.ca/tickets.
Photo: Johnny Vong