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Thomas Haden Church in a scene from Whitewash.

Cristal Films/Micro_Scope

3.5 out of 4 stars

Written by
Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais, Marc Tulin
Directed by
Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais
Starring
Thomas Haden Church
Classification
14A
Country
Canada
Language
English, French
Year
2013

When the snowplow driven by the craggy-faced, widowed alcoholic Bruce (Thomas Haden Church) hits and kills a man on an icy, snow-pelleted rural road, it appears to be an accident, but Bruce's subsequent actions suggest otherwise. He buries the body in a snowbank, then proceeds to drive his vehicle deep into the woods, where he awakes the next morning, dazed and confused.

Why hasn't he gone to the cops? Who was the man on the road? And why, for God's sake, does Bruce begin to live in the wrecked and frozen dozer?

The debut feature by Quebec filmmaker Emanuel Hoss-Demarais is a frosty, desperation-steeped winter noir à la Fargo or A Simple Plan, but it has distinctive character in all senses of the word: It addresses our questions about this charismatically perplexing loner – a sensational Church – via the smartly elliptical use of flashbacks and voiceover, and it focuses so exclusively on this broken, self-exiled man in the wilderness that Bruce's internal drama becomes the movie's primary source of mystery and allure.

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Whitewash is a small but sparkling gem on ice.

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