BY EMILY GAGNE
Back in September, I caught a screening of McCanick, one of two final films Glee star Cory Monteith made before his death. I wasn’t completely sold on that flick, but I was incredibly impressed by Monteith’s performance in it. I can’t say the same for his final flick ever, All the Wrong Reasons.
While McCannck was a tad too overdramatic and obvious, leaving little to offer other than Monteith’s touching turn as a young man running from a mentally unstable police officer gunning for him, All the Wrong Reasons is a nice surprise of an indie film. For a first feature (the director is Canadian short creator Gia Milani), it’s pretty impressive, both in terms of an engaging storyline and talent, bringing you into the lives of the employees of a Halifax department store, who are all stuck in arrested development due to varying traumas.
Aside from Vancouver native Monteith, who plays store manager James, a man whose job success can’t make up for the fact that he can’t get his wife, fellow employee Kate, to come near him following a traumatizing accident, All the Wrong Reasons features moving work from from homegrown actors Kevin Zegers, Karina Vanasse and Emily Hampshire. Zegers, who has made it big in some American flicks and shows, is particularly interesting here, and not just because he’s tasked with playing a physically challenging character: a former firefighter with a fake arm named Simon. His Newfoundland accent is actually quite convincing, as is Simon’s growing emotional relationship with Vanasse’s Kate.
Simon and Kate appear to be the only ones able to understand the brevity of each other’s unique brands of pains and their effect on their daily lives. In one scene, Simon tries to convince Kate to move past her space issues by asking her if it’s not that she can’t touch anything, but that she can’t “touch it back.” It’s hard not to be touched by the sensitive, yet sensual approach Zegers takes to the moment, not to mention the simple, yet effective writing framing it.
There’s also some rawness to be found between James and Nicole, a single mother with confidence issues played by Hampshire. They’re both extremely lonely in their own ways (he longs intimacy from his wife, while she wants support from the father of her child) and find solace in the arms of one another. What they’re doing is not right, and neither, really, is what Kate and Simon are trying, but as the title suggests, the film isn’t necessarily interested in what’s “right.” Rather, it looks at how people try to fix what’s ailing them with what feels right in the right now. It’s a message that’s particularly haunting knowing the details of the late Monteith’s personal life (he lost his life to his own vice — drugs and alcohol).
All and all, All the Wrong Reasons does a lot of right by turning a lens on what it means to be wronged.
All the Wrong Reasons is currently playing in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Victoria, with additional cities to be added in the coming weeks.