Belying its title, "Love & Savagery" is a mild romantic drama that's set four decades ago and might easily have been made even earlier. Old-fashioned tale of a Newfoundlander falling for a forbidden Irish lass (she's convent-bound) underplays its cliches to earnest, pleasant effect. It's a safe fest crowdpleaser that's probably too modest and plainly styled to gain much traction theatrically when it opens Oct. 9 in Canada, though TV sales should be decent.

Belying its title, “Love & Savagery” is a mild romantic drama that’s set four decades ago and might easily have been made even earlier. Old-fashioned tale of a Newfoundlander falling for a forbidden Irish lass (she’s convent-bound) underplays its cliches to earnest, pleasant effect. It’s a safe fest crowdpleaser that’s probably too modest and plainly styled to gain much traction theatrically when it opens Oct. 9 in Canada, though TV sales should be decent.

In 1969, Canuck tourist Michael (Allan Hawco) is an amateur geologist and poet drawn to unique rock formations in West Ireland’s County Clare. Staying at the nearby hamlet’s pub/B&B, he’s likewise drawn to barmaid Kathleen (Sarah Greene), the proprietor’s niece. Sparks between them aren’t appreciated by locals, however, as she’s an orphan “promised” to God by her late mother’s wish. Smitten Michael’s refusal to back off earns him a couple beatdowns, and there’s a scandal when the hesitant lovebirds are stranded overnight on a nearby island. Leads are agreeable if lacking charisma, just as vet Canadian helmer John N. Smith’s presentation is solidly competent rather than inspired. Still, there’s enough charm and drama to hold attention.

Love & Savagery

Canada

Production

A Metropole Films release of a Mongrel Media production in association with Morag Loves Co. and Park Ex Pictures. (International sales: Mongrel Media, Toronto.) Produced by Barbara Doran, Lynne Wilson, Kevin Tierney. Executive producer, Tristan Orpen Lynch. Directed by John N. Smith. Screenplay, Des Walsh.

Crew

Camera (color), Pierre Letarte; editor, Michel Arcand; music, Bertrand Chenier; production designers, Padraig O'Neill, Raymond Dupuis. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (noncompeting), Sept. 2, 2009. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Allan Hawco, Sarah Greene, Sean Painting, Mark Whelan, Martha Burns, Macdara O'Fatharta, Dylan Scott Smith.
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