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film review

Still of Pat Mills in Guidance (2014)

Trying to fit perfectly into an imperfect world – does that even make any sense? Not to the mind of David Gold, a washed-up former child actor who as an adult hasn't a clue about how to play himself.

Gold is the vodka-swilling, sexually confused but optimistic lead character in Guidance, a small and thoughtfully oddball Canadian comedy starring Pat Mills, also the writer-director. After finagling his way into a job as high school guidance counsellor, Gold alienates himself from the teaching staff while endearing himself to students with methods that are unconventional – and even prosecutable.

Watching Mills on screen, it's hard not to think of a Bruce McCulloch character from The Kids in the Hall, with more than a touch of Al Franken's daily-affirming Stuart Smalley. The film is not significant, but it is principled and sweetly subversive. And, like high school, if you're not careful, you might just learn something from it.