Barbecue: A Love Story

This no-budget first feature, from Vancouver-based Stacy Kirk, has some striking moments and an amiable, loping rhythm. Poor-white-trash setting of "Barbecue: A Love Story" offers too many easy targets, so the helmer's aim isn't really tested. Other than limited playoff on fest circuit, and some cable action , this is strictly a calling-card effort.

With:
With: Peter Flemming, Suzy Joachim, Deanna Milligan, Babz Chula, Earl Pastko, William McDonald.

This no-budget first feature, from Vancouver-based Stacy Kirk, has some striking moments and an amiable, loping rhythm. Poor-white-trash setting of “Barbecue: A Love Story” offers too many easy targets, so the helmer’s aim isn’t really tested. Other than limited playoff on fest circuit, and some cable action , this is strictly a calling-card effort.

Pic’s highly stylized view of trailer park denizens — including such Canuck veterans as Babz Chula and Earl Pastko, as the only relatively rational beings — is often amusing, in an obvious sort of way. Problem is that the main characters, led by Peter Flemming as Lucky, a hungry and not particular fortunate exterminator caught between two women, aren’t well enough established to excite much interest in their dilemmas. And the frequent tonal shifts are unconvincing: Helmer keeps throwing silliness at the screen, and then expects the audience to take things to heart.

Still, Suzy Joachim, as Lucky’s angry mate, and Deanna Milligan, as the sweet-tempered waitress he takes a likin’ to, manage to suggest both emotional sting and human warmth. Their physical presence is effective, but it’s undercut by Flemming’s meekness — what do they see in him? — and by the script’s lack of interest in even the most basic psychology of the cartoonlike characters.

Kirk, who’s originally from Texas, where her tale is nominally set (it was shot in B.C.), seems to be counting on our familiarity with these types, but that only makes the lack of payoff more acute.

Pluses include Steven Rinaldo’s purposely tacky production design and the appropriately offbeat lensing of Steve Cosens, who favors flat, wide shots and odd vantage points. (Pic was blown up from Super-16mm to 35mm.)

Barbecue: A Love Story

Canada

Production: A Rufus Film (Vancouver) production. Produced by Bob Millar. Co-producer, Mar Andersons. Directed, written by Stacy Kirk.

Crew: Camera (color), Steve Cosens; editors, Patti Henderson, Fredrik Thorsen; music, Darden Smith; production design, Steven Rinaldo; costumes, Oriana Garber; sound (Dolby), Postmodern Sound; assistant director, Michael Magnusson; casting, Kathy Carpenter, Laurie McGrath. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival, Oct. 15, 1997. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: With: Peter Flemming, Suzy Joachim, Deanna Milligan, Babz Chula, Earl Pastko, William McDonald.

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