Review: ‘Walk Backwards’

There's little doubt that thesp and tyro helmer Laurie Maria Baranyay reached deep within herself to essay the abused, distraught waif at the center of "Walk Backwards." Pic never rises above level of laborious exercise in self-abasement. Theatrical prospects are nil, with only most tolerant of fests and cablers stepping forward.

There’s little doubt that thesp and tyro helmer Laurie Maria Baranyay reached deep within herself to essay the abused, distraught waif at the center of “Walk Backwards.” Yet despite this obvious passion, pic never rises above level of laborious exercise in self-abasement. Theatrical prospects are nil, with only most tolerant of fests and cablers stepping forward.

Charting an afternoon and long night in the life of zonked-out and confused pixie Mikey (Baranyay), story follows heroine’s ongoing emotional and physical abuse at the hands of b.f. Adam (newcomer Philip Powers), her exasperated family, well-meaning but insensitive friends and opportunistic ex-lover. Awakening nude and battered from ordeal with her ex, she makes a hesitant stab at normalcy that seems to be too little, too late. As abject a victim as morose Mikey becomes, Baranyay never explains how she got to this point or offers a glimmer of hope for fundamental self-awareness, much less redemption. Thus, her fearless perf, particularly in late going, remains in dramatic limbo of extended improv sequences and unresolved conflicts. Tech credits are functional, with muffled murkiness of vid an annoying yet appropriate vehicle for insular ordeal.

Walk Backwards

Canada

Production

A Pixel Films production. (International sales: Pixel Films, Vancouver.) Produced by Laurie Maria Baranyay. Executive producer, Christine Haebler. Directed, written by Laurie Maria Baranyay.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Mark Ellam; editor, Patricia Fernie; music, Colin McLeane; sound, Krista Loughton. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Perspective Canada), Sept. 12, 2001. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Laurie Maria Baranyay, Phillip Powers, Edith Baranyay, Andrew McIntyre.
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