Wilby Wonderful (Canada; 99 min.)


directed by: Daniel MacIvor
starring: James Allodi; Sandra Oh, Paul Gross; Rebecca Jenkins; Ellen Page; Callum Keith Rennie
Wilby Wonderful
 

Bruce says: "WILBY WONDERFUL is similar to an Altman film, having a dozen or so characters whose live are intertwined during the course of about twenty four hours. The film opens abstractly until a boot splashes in what we suddenly see as a puddle. The boot belongs to Dan Jarvis (James Allodi) who is about to jump off a bridge. When Walter (Callum Keith Rennie) -Duck as everyone in town knows him - comes along, Jarvis' plan is thwarted. Duck begins to worry about Dan and follows him around town so he can figure out what’s going on.

"Carol French (Sandra Oh) wheels and deals real estate in Wilby and is increasingly distancing herself from her policeman husband, Buddy (Paul Gross) who lacks her ambition. Sandra Anderson (Rebecca Jenkins) lives with her daughter Emily (Ellen Page) and is tickled when it appears Emily is about to have her first sexual adventure. Her big concern for her daughter is whether Taylor, the boyfriend (Caleb Langille), is a mainlander or an islander. Wilby is on an island off the coast of Nova Scotia and those mainlanders aren’t to be trusted. Emily is not so comfortable sharing her romantic ups-and-downs with her mother. In fact, her worst fear is that she will turn out like her mother.

"Wilby's mayor (Maury Chaykin) and his wife (Susannah Hoffman) are looking for a new home and Carol French has the perfect listing; their daughter Mackenzie (Marcella Grimaux) is sullen perhaps because her best friend Emily has a boyfriend and she doesn't. Irene (Mary Ellen MacLean), the town gossip, hangs out at Sandra’s establishment, Iggy's Diner 'Where the Sweet Meet to Eat.' She knows all the rumors about Wilby Watch, the last unspoiled area on the coast. Definitely riddled with drugs and queers, so she says. The mayor's wife's brother, Stan Lastman (Daniel MacIvor), is also on the police force and he is convinced they will find evidence of wrongdoing if he and Buddy comb every inch of that unspoiled coastline. 'There is cancer of the face of Wilby and it must be eradicated.' Buddy lacks Stan’s conviction, however. Meanwhile the local paper is all set to publish the names of all the queers who frequent Wilby Watch. Within a few hours almost everyone's life will change.

"WILBY WONDERFUL is filled with excellent performances, really fine ensemble acting. Sandra Oh remains one of the most captivating actresses around. In a difficult role that merges comedy bordering on slapstick with a touch of melodrama, she never skips a beat. James Allodi is perfect as the hapless, suicidal man whose wife left him. After his bridge jumping attempt, he tries the oven, stones in his pockets and rope, none of which is successful. Allodi is a terrific bungler.

"MacIvor has written a complicated story with extraordinarily well-defined, strong characters. In the course of the film, you feel you know each one of them and what makes them tick. WILBY WONDERFUL is warmhearted and sweet. That is not faint praise. 4.5 cats

"This film was shown at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival
 
Michael says: "Featuring an all-star Canadian cast, WILBY WONDERFUL is a warm ensemble comedy written and directed by the talented Chlotrudis-favorite, Daniel MacIvor. The small, island-town of Wilby is populated by islanders and off-islanders alike, but what all the characters share is a desire to love and be loved. Central to Wilby’s difficulties is a scandal that threatens to tear the town apart. Details are scarce, but rumors are flying with the threat of public exposure hovering over the lives of two central characters in the film. Dan (James Allodi) repeatedly attempts to take his own life, but is constantly interrupted. Real estate agent Carol French (the delightful Sandra Oh) frantically prepares for a town-wide celebration while her relationship with her husband Buddy, a town cop (Paul Gross) grows stagnant. Buddy flirts with infidelity with Sandra (Rebecca Jenkins) whose attempts to resuscitate a local restaurant depends on her decision to stay or leave the town a decision Sandra’s daughter Emily (Ellen Page) frets about as she grows closer to a local boy whose motives for declaring his love for her grow suspect. WILBY WONDERFUL is a funny movie, filled with moments of gravity. MacIvor, whose first film was the emotional PAST PERFECT, directs with a light touch, allowing the ensemble of very strong performances shine. In this case, WILBY is truly wonderful. 5 cats"