Be Still

Based on the play of the same name by Canadian playwright Janet Munsil, Be Still is an experimental biopic about the work and emotional pain endured by Vancouver photographer Hannah Maynard.

While her dedication to the craft is seen in her final shots, Maynard (played exceptionally well by The Open House’s Piercey Dalton) has a distracted demeanour that discourages her models and other observers.  Following artistic instincts, assumably in the same way Maynard would, filmmaker Elizabeth Lazebnik uses her medium as a way to identify and sympathize with her subject while emulating her surrealistic creativity.  This method of storytelling, while certainly jarring, transports us into Maynard’s often disturbed perspective.  The atmosphere of Be Still is stark in tone, occasionally making the viewer appropriately uncomfortable or scared, while also finding notes of ambiguity to faithfully mirror Maynard’s lack of mindfulness.

The last half hour of Lazebnik’s biopic abandons these aesthetically interesting tricks, favouring a more traditional narrative to wrap up the story.  By having the film lead into this final act by confidently taking so many affective risks, it’s puzzling to see such a reassured movie lean back and play a safe hand to stick its landing.  This is another jarring change of pace in an otherwise unpredictable movie, but a choice that spoonfeeds the audience rather than challenges them.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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