Modest Canuck dramedy "Who Loves the Sun" reunites five long-estranged characters at a remote lakeside cabin so they can thrash out feelings and let slip shocking revelations. Too-tidy script feels like it's been through the development mill once too often, but writer-helmer Matt Bissonnette (working solo here after "Looking for Leonard," his co-directed debut with Steven Clarke) still achieves very watchable results with pic's fine cast and pro tech credits. "Sun" should radiate warmth at fests, but may struggle to crest theatrical horizons beyond Canada.

Modest Canuck dramedy “Who Loves the Sun” reunites five long-estranged characters at a remote lakeside cabin so they can thrash out feelings and let slip shocking revelations. Too-tidy script feels like it’s been through the development mill once too often, but writer-helmer Matt Bissonnette (working solo here after “Looking for Leonard,” his co-directed debut with Steven Clarke) still achieves very watchable results with pic’s fine cast and pro tech credits. “Sun” should radiate warmth at fests, but may struggle to crest theatrical horizons beyond Canada.

Semi-retired couple Arthur (R.H. Thomson) and Mary Bloom (Wendy Crewson) are taken aback when Will Morrison (Lukas Haas), their son Daniel’s best friend from childhood, shows up out of the blue. Will is cagey about what he’s been up to for the last five years since he disappeared. When pressed, he’ll only admit he has been “away, all over” and has written an unpublished novel.

Mary and Arthur ask Daniel, whom they haven’t seen in ages, up to their cabin to help sort out Will. A Gotham-based magazine editor who’s published a novel of his own, normally smug Daniel (Adam Scott) appears contrite around Will. Turns out Daniel had sex with Will’s wife Maggie five years ago, thus precipitating Will’s disappearance.

Will is still deeply hurt and announces he’s going to kill Daniel, prompting a comically inept fight that leaves both men only mildly bruised in body and pride.

Before long, a summoned Maggie (Molly Parker) also arrives, spitting mad at Will for disappearing, a crime she feels far outweighs whatever she did with Daniel in the cabin’s boathouse. Despite his wounded feelings, Will still cares for her deeply — but so does Daniel.

Apart from the aforementioned mock-macho tussle, action consists almost entirely of people talking, usually in groups of two or three. Interest is, however, maintained not just by the cast’s well-timed playing and the slow drip-feed of revelations (the last act one being a doozy), but also by letting some of the duets play out against spectacularly pretty sunsets and other scenic shots. Unfortunately, occasional use of post-synched dialogue distracts from the visuals’ polish.

Writer-helmer Bissonnette has a nice naturalistic, comic touch with dialogue and is canny about the charged mix of affection and rivalry that runs through male friendships. Unusually, he also writes convincing dialogue for stoned people. (A lot of casual marijuana smoking goes on here at night.)

The femme characters are a little more sketchily rendered, but thesps Parker and Crewson add non-verbal gestures and expressions to give characters added depth.

Running time is just right, especially for TV play, which is pic’s best shot for wider distribution.

Who Loves the Sun

Canada

Production

A Christal Films presentation of a Corey Marr Prods. production, in association with Inferno and 105 Films. (International sales: Corey Marr Prods., Toronto.) Produced by Corey Marr, Brendon Sawatzky, Matt Bissonnette. Executive producer, Karen Lee Hall. Directed, written by Matt Bissonnette.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Arthur E. Cooper; editor, Michele Conroy; music, Mac McCaughan; production designer, Patricia Christie; costume designer, Heather Neale; sound (Dolby Digital), Jeff Wilston. Reviewed at London Film Festival (World Cinema), Oct. 26, 2006. (Also in AFI Film Festival, Los Angeles.) Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Lukas Haas, Molly Parker, Adam Scott, R.H. Thomson, Wendy Crewson. (English dialogue)

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