A fatal automobile accident leaves a legacy of wrecked lives in the earnest yet inevitable criss-crosser “Normal.” Far more focused and dramatically credible than helmer Carl Bessai’s previous film, the awkward adaption “Unnatural & Accidental,” pic hits all the right technical notes. Yet by playing what’s essentially an elaborate meller in hushed tones meant to indicate profundity, the film loses the emotional rawness necessary to draw viewers into this human vortex. Prominent cast and warm response at Toronto fest could spell brisk upscale biz locally, though main route outside Canada will be through fests and tube stops.
Well-heeled Vancouver homemaker Catherine (Carrie-Anne Moss) remains devastated in the wake of her eldest son’s death in a car crash. Juvenile delinquent Jordie (Kevin Zegers, “Transamerica”) was at the wheel, while alkie lit professor Walt (Callum Keith Rennie) was the driver who hit them while DUI. Catherine’s family is falling apart, Jordie enters into an affair with his young stepmother, and Walt tends to his functioning autistic brother, Dennis (Tygh Runyan). Standout thesp is Bessai regular Runyan, whose scenes with Rennie’s bruised academic could be core of another, less self-conscious film about family. Tech package is polished.
— Eddie Cockrell