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film review

An image from The Drawer Boy.Courtesy of Highball.TV

  • The Drawer Boy
  • Directed by Arturo Perez Torres and Aviva Armour-Ostroff
  • Written by Michael Healey and Arturo Perez Torres
  • Starring Jakob Ehman, Richard Clarkin and Stuart Hughes
  • Classification PG
  • 96 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

In summer 1972, young actor Miles (Jakob Ehman, mutton-chopped to the max) helps out on an Ontario farm run by Second World War vets Morgan (Richard Clarkin) and Angus (Stuart Hughes) as research for a play.

Morgan is the true yarn-spinner, however – filling gullible Miles’s ears with tall tales about terrified cows during the day, and, at night, gently repeating to Angus the sad story of how he lost his memory and they ended up on the farm alone.

When the farmers discover Miles has used their private tragedy in his show, seeing it on stage changes everything. Michael Healey, adapting his own hit 1999 play inspired by a real 1970s collective creation, depicts the power of stories as transformative but complex – and not unambiguously positive.

It’s fun, in this film directed by Arturo Perez Torres (who co-wrote the screenplay) and Aviva Armour-Ostroff, to find legendary stage director Paul Thompson playing himself in a barn rehearsal. The movie also adds glimmering glimpses of Angus’s shattered memory, hovering like UFOs.

While it never entirely shakes off its staginess – particularly in a climax in the kitchen – The Drawer Boy has performances to savour, especially a heartbreaking one by Hughes.

The Drawer Boy opens Nov. 23 in Toronto.