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film review

Toronto filmmaker Kazik Radwanksi's new kitchen-sink feature opens with a tight shot of Erwin (Erwin Van Cotthem), an overweight father of two who sits in front of his computer, trying to drown out the needs of his family as he whiles away time raiding digital castles and slaughtering CGI soldiers. As Erwin watches his varied forces engaged in battle, we in turn watch Erwin fall deeper and deeper into a malaise of his own making. And that, in a nutshell, is How Heavy This Hammer – a raw portrait of a man in a rut, unaware of how to function in the world. It is a cold and unrelenting film, but also utterly absorbing. By choosing to almost always keep Erwin and the characters who float in and out of his life in close focus – with the lead's imposing frame crowding the screen for space – Radwanski creates a visceral, impossible-to-ignore document of one man's fraught reality. It is creative, bold and even dangerous filmmaking. (14A) Barry Hertz