A refreshing take on an overused theme — dysfunctional father-son connections — starts gently and gets more compelling as it glides along like a woodworker’s sharpened plane over smooth surfaces. Provincial settings make this a tough urban sell, but a clever distrib might be able to reach older and more rural auds on both sides of the border with this beautifully shot ode to country life, limitations and all.
Kris Lemche (“Joan of Arcadia”) gets an impressive workout as Caleb, a handsome, articulate 27-year-old who hasn’t yet been able to break away from home. Context is the only thing conveying the fact that woodworking partner Jim (Michael Hogan) is actually his dad; the pic is more than half over before any family beans are spilled.
Caleb’s innate restlessness is exacerbated when perfectionist Jim turns down lucrative but aesthetically dubious work in a dwindling market. Then Jim’s old friend and rival Matthew (Matt Craven) flies his own aircraft into the remote Slocan Valley, looking to build a luxury lodge and stir up trouble for Jim, who has stayed true to their hippie ways.
Caleb has recently struck up a tentative relationship with a pretty single mom (Pascale Hutton), but she finds him something of a flight risk — as is made more apparent when a couple of granola types (Kett Turton, Sarah Lind) pitch a teepee on his land, new and old relationships muddy the waters.
Pic’s thesping is uniformly strong but not pushy, with helmer Aubrey Nealon’s dialogue sharply amusing without resorting to sitcom wisecracks.
Equally affecting is David Geddes’ aerial lensing, which takes viewers high above the gorgeous Kootenays, with sparse music providing needed mood lifts.
Open ending is quietly satisfying; it’s difficult to believe Nealon’s hands have not been calloused by making features before this elegant gem.