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Heater

Executive producer, Findlay.

Executive producer, Findlay.

Directed, written by Terrance Odette. Camera (color), Arthur E. Cooper; editor, David Wharnsby; music, Neil Clark; production designer, Shawna Balas; set decorator, Jake Moore; costume supervisor, Barb Myrvold; casting, Rebecca Gibson. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival, Oct. 7, 1999. Running time: 87 MIN.With: Gary Farmer, Stephen Ouimette, Tina Keeper, Jan Skene, Mauralea Austin , Blake Taylor, Joyce Krenz, Sharon Bajer, Jonathan Barrett, Rick Skene.

Excellent first feature adheres well to stripped-down sensibility of Iranian fable-spinner Abbas Kiarostami, although mordant humor brings a Beckett-like edge to the prairie neo-realism. “Heater,” which picked up two prizes (including a humanitarian one) at this year’s Vancouver fest, probably looks too homegrown to attract fans of the exotic, but with careful handling it could reach auds interested in examining the peculiar in their own backyards.

Two homeless guys, with maybe half a future between them, spend a day and a night stumbling around Winnipeg in thedepths of winter. The space heater they carry, still in its box with a tattered receipt, is more than a symbol of the comforts always just out of reach — it’s worth maybe 40 bucks down at the local mall. Happily, legit director Terrance Odette isn’t interested in milking metaphors out of these two not-so-lovable losers, but in simply showing the guys at their most resourceful, which isn’t very. They’re played by two of Canada’s best actors, Stephen Ouimette and Gary Farmer. For all its verite simplicity, the pic’s form reveals itself neatly, paying off with a punchline that’s both funny and unsentimentally poignant.

Heater

(DRAMA -- CANADIAN)

Production: A Marble Island Pictures Corp. (Winnipeg, Manitoba) production, with support from Telefilm Canada, Vision TV and WIC. Produced by Marc Stephenson, Ritchard Findlay.

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