Review: ‘The Score’

Science comes out to play in this hypnotically stylized take on the Electric Company Theatre piece about a gutsy research scientist trying to map out human genes, including her own. Not all auds will be open to a production in which whitecoated techies break into song and dance, but adventurous viewers will want to know "The Score."

Science comes out to play in this hypnotically stylized take on the Electric Company Theatre piece about a gutsy research scientist trying to map out human genes, including her own. Not all auds will be open to a production in which whitecoated techies break into song and dance, nor to a love story that finds characters fretting about DNA codes. But adventurous viewers will want to know “The Score,” an ambitious item that succeeds on a number of challenging levels — without breaking too much sweat about it. It’s slated for a Canuck tube bow this winter.

Hard-edged researcher Lynn Magnusson (redheaded Jane Perry) runs a small Canadian lab that competes with a better-funded French facility. Both firms are trying to isolate a cancer gene.

In addition to running the lab, Magnusson is trying to keep under wraps a low-simmering affair with her assistant (co-scripter Jonathon Young). She also is worried about her own genetic propensity to get Huntington’s Lymphoma — and to pass it on, should she get pregnant. The image of her withered, institutionalized mother increasingly haunts her, in spooky flashbacks and in starkly memorable dance sequences choreographed by Crystal Pyte.

Eventually, Magnusson lets go of her self-absorption enough to notice music coming from a Beethoven-like composer (a bushy-haired Kevin McNulty) who lives upstairs in her industrial-type building. Both artist and scientist operate in minimal, all-white environments, but his is infused with calm spirituality, with Peter Allen providing a Michael Nyman-type score, while her sterile setting seethes with political and interpersonal conflicts. (All her employees are struggling for credit and a piece of the action.)

Helmer Kim Collier adroitly mixes the tale’s main strands with a subplot about the race with the French competitors, who are depicted as slick opportunists.

Great production design, cleverly varied tunesmithing, and fine thesping (especially from legit veteran Perry) hold together disparate elements that, instead of flying apart, end up spiraling together toward a satisfying finish — one in which heart definitely trumps head, without losing its smarts.

The Score

Canada

Production

A Screen Siren Pictures production, in association with the CBC, with support from the Genome Project, Telefilm Canada and British Columbia Film. Produced by Trish Dolman, Leah Mallen. Directed by Kim Collier. Co-directors, Jonathon Young, Kevin Kerr. Screenplay, Young, Kerr, David Hudgins.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Motoki Kobayashi; editor, Michael John Bateman; music, Peter Allen; production designer, Michael Budgeon; art director, Doris M. Deutschmann; costume designer, Sheila White; sound (Dolby), Brent Calkin; sound designer, Miguel Nunes; choreographer, Crystal Pyte; visual effects, Mark Bernard; associate producer, Lori Lozinski; assistant director, Collin Leadlay; casting, Coreen Mayrs, Heike Brandstatter. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Canadian Images), Oct.12, 2005. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Jane Perry, Jonathon Young, Kevin McNulty, JR Bourne, Suleka Matthew, Tom Butler, Lois Anderson, Diana Coatsworth, Alessandro Juliani.
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