A downbeat subject is handled with gentle assurance in "Mile Zero," a father-son drama that's more austere than hyperbolic. Vancouver and wilderness settings prove an effective backdrop for the study of a deteriorating character.

A downbeat subject is handled with gentle assurance in “Mile Zero,” a father-son drama that’s more austere than hyperbolic. Vancouver and wilderness settings prove an effective backdrop for the study of a deteriorating character. Dark chamber piece probably is too small-scaled to drum up much Stateside biz, but exotic locations might attract interest from further afield. Cable action is more certain.

Michael Riley’s powerhouse performance as a dad who feels wronged enough to kidnap his own young son anchors this glumly affecting family drama. His likable Derek can’t get over the fact that his wife (the unconvincing Sabrina Grdevich) is living with another guy, and the distraught dad screws up what little time he has with their young son (impressively low-key Connor Widdows). Andrew Currie’s first feature gathers sympathy for the increasingly desperate Derek, and then undercuts it when he grabs the boy with vague plans to take him up to the province’s chilly far north. Pic’s refusal to sensationalize or sentimentalize these developments is admirable, even if some of the dramatic payoff is too muted. Sinuous guitar music goes well with smooth editing.

Mile Zero

Canada

Production

An Anagram Pictures production. Produced by Trent Carlson, Blake Corbet. Executive producers, Jennifer Kawaja, Julia Sereny. Directed by Andrew Currie. Screenplay, Michael Melski.

Crew

Camera (color), Robert Aschmann; editor, Reginald Harkema; music, Don MacDonald; production designer, Johanna Mazur. Reviewed at Pacific Cinematheque, Vancouver, Sept. 12, 2001. (In Vancouver, Toronto film festivals.) Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Michael Riley, Connor Widdows, Sabrina Grdevich.
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