Solitude

Canadian documentarian Robin Schlaht remains a nonjudgmental observer in his first narrative feature, "Solitude," a quietly meditative drama as hermetic and allusive as a minimalist short story. Spiritual discontent of three leads is compellingly rendered, but characters are too opaque for pic to strike dramatic sparks.

With:
With: Lothaire Bluteau, Vanessa Martinez, Wendy Anderson, Eugene Lipinski.

Canadian documentarian Robin Schlaht remains a nonjudgmental observer in his first narrative feature, “Solitude,” a quietly meditative drama as hermetic and allusive as a minimalist short story. Spiritual discontent of three leads is compellingly rendered, but characters are too opaque for pic to strike dramatic sparks. Beautiful color lensing by Patrick McLaughlin and typically soulful perf by Lothaire Bluteau (“Jesus of Montreal,” “The Black Robe”) may generate interest among cable viewers and venturesome fest auds.

Bluteau plays Brother Bernard, an acutely intelligent monk who seeks answers about his faith during a summer retreat at a small town monastery. Other guests at the abbey include Michele (Vanessa Martinez), a troubled teen who’s been shipped off by her concerned parents, and Linda (Wendy Anderson), a thirtysomething woman who’s trying to plot her next move in a bad relationship. (A failing marriage? An illicit love affair? If Schlaht knows, he keeps the info to himself.) While Brother Bernard prays for guidance, Linda and Michele establish a tentative mother-daughter bond, but there’s an abrupt, cruel twist at the end for reasons too ambiguous for the pic’s own good.

Solitude

Canada

Production: An Edge Entertainment release of a Zima Junction production. Produced by Robin Schlaht, David Christensen. Executive producers, Larry Bauman, Don Copeman. Directed by Robin Schlaht. Screenplay, Schlaht, Connie Gault.

Crew: Camera (color), Patrick McLaughlin; editor, Heather Malek; production designer, Hugh Shankland; sound, Pat Butler. Reviewed at South by Southwest Film Festival (competing), Austin, Texas, March 13, 2001. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: With: Lothaire Bluteau, Vanessa Martinez, Wendy Anderson, Eugene Lipinski.

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