A first narrative feature for longtime doc collaborators Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert, "Finn's Girl" reps an intelligent juggling of disparate elements including pubescent unrest, single parenting, lesbian widowhood and anti-abortionist violence. While the agenda grows a bit overloaded, solid perfs and polished execution on a low budget help the writing-directing duo largely pull it off.

A first narrative feature for longtime doc collaborators Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert, “Finn’s Girl” reps an intelligent juggling of disparate elements including pubescent unrest, single parenting, lesbian widowhood and anti-abortionist violence. While the agenda grows a bit overloaded, solid perfs and polished execution on a low budget help the writing-directing duo largely pull it off. Mix of domestic family and social-issue drama is more the stuff of broadcast than theatrical fare. Variety of ethical issues addressed could attract dates at showcases for gay, women’s, heath, human rights and other fests.

Dr. Finn Jeffries (Brooke Johnson) is a silver-haired, fortysomething Toronto gynecologist who projects an aura of no-nonsense authority. But, in fact, she’s got more than a little stress in her life. The breast-cancer death of beloved partner Nancy has left her alone to raise the latter’s unhappy, resentful 11-year-old daughter Zelly (Maya Ritter), who’s taken to acting out in mild but troublesome ways. Zelly’s sperm-donor father is Paul (Richard Clarkin), a colleague at the pharmaceutical development lab where Finn is developing new fertility drugs. But he expends more effort criticizing Finn’s parenting skills than being helpful.

What’s more, Finn has reluctantly taken over management of the abortion clinic that was Nancy’s professional focus — one that is now constantly protested and harassed by prolife activists. When the pro-lifers start making attempts on Finn’s life, odd-couple police officers Diana (Yanna McIntosh) and Xavier (Gilles Lemaire) are assigned to keep an eye on her, Zelly and the clinic, getting involved with Finn’s family as well.

Pic packs a lot into 88 minutes, without feeling too cluttered, although some bits end up seeming underdeveloped or unnecessary — notably a moral conflict at the pharma-lab, Finn’s on/off relationship with a clinic coworker (Nathalie Toriel), and an abrupt late revelation involving Zelly’s paternity (or lack thereof). Ending is a tad too neat. But overall, Cardona and Colbert manage to integrate a complicated docket into an involving human drama, with a major assist from credible, low-key thesping by all concerned.

Providing welcome notes of levity is French actor Lemaire, who in his screen debut scores some very funny moments as the verbally uninhibited Xavier.

Belying a tight budget, the tech package is smoothly handled all around.

Finn's Girl

Canada

Production

A Cardona-Colbert production. Produced by Dominique Cardona, Laurie Colbert, Carolynne Bell. Co-producer, Paul Lee. Directed by Dominique Cardona, Laurie Colbert. Screenplay, Colbert.

Crew

Camera (color, Super 16-to-35mm), Patrick McGowan; editor, Gino Zolezzi; music, Tom Third; production designer, Christine Plunkett; costume designer, Sarah Armstrong; sound (Dolby Digital), Margus Jukkum; assistant director, Christy Garland; casting, Marissa Richmond. Reviewed at San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, June 17, 2007. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Brooke Johnson, Yanna McIntosh, Maya Ritter, Gilles Lemaire, Andrew Chalmers, Gail Maurice, Richard Clarkin, Nathalie Toriel, Chantel Cole.

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