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Andreas Apergis in Birthmarked.

  • Birthmarked
  • Written by Marc Tulin
  • Directed by Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais
  • Starring Toni Collette, Matthew Goode, Fionnula Flanagan, Michael Smiley, Andreas Apergis
  • Classification 14A
  • 88 minutes

rating

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A comedy asks a tireless question: Could we ever become someone other than who we are? But when its mildly interesting 88 minutes are done, one is left to wonder only if the film could have been a lot better in someone else’s hands – perhaps those belonging to Wes Anderson.

Directed by Canadian Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais, the 1980s-set Birthmarked has a quirky and promising premise, involving a husband-and-wife scientist team raising their three children as part of a nature-versus-nurture experiment. They are home-schooled lab rats pushed into roles they may or may not fit, by parents (Toni Collette and Matthew Goode) who are a fairly normal kind of dysfunctional, beyond their lack of ethical concerns.

Happening mostly in a Vermont family cottage, Birthmarked has a warm look to it, with a folk-rock soundtrack that makes it even cozier. Andreas Apergis, who plays a cold-showering Russian research assistant, has his moments. In fact the whole cast is capable. The comedy doesn’t pop, though, and even a nifty late-film reveal can’t save this film from failing to live up to its potential.

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