By: Addison Wylie
Fresh off its stardom at the Canadian Screen Awards after earning nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score, the general moviegoing public gets to see if Cast No Shadow lives up to the hype.
I congratulate director Christian Sparkes and his team on the nominations, but Cast No Shadow didn’t work for me. Slivers of ideas are buried under the uneven tone of the film.
If you disregard the coarse language, it’s almost impossible to guess the demographic this film is intended for. The film is presented with a fantastical feel that presumably wants to connect with adolescence (including that mentioned musical score, which is too preoccupied with its fluttery bluntness to trust its audience). However, the subject matter and themes are taken very serious. This means Cast No Shadow is too sombre to comprehend as a coming-of-age story with slight dreamy influences, and the film’s fantasy atmosphere withdrawals any weight to the subject matter. The audience is caught in an anxious tug-o-war until we quickly admit defeat. Sparkes settles with a mood during his film’s conclusion, but most movie goers will have checked out by then.
This is yet another story featuring a troubled child (Jude played by Percy Hynes-White) who embarks on his own personal journey. Jude’s deadbeat father (overacted by Cast No Shadow’s screenwriter Joel Thomas-Hynes) emits furiousness into his son’s everyday life, which has Jude in a constant state of fear and rebellion towards other authorities. He then finds comfort in Alfreda (played by Mary-Colin Chisholm), an older woman who keeps to herself but is in need of a friend. Thomas-Hynes’ story shows us the ropes to this overdone story of youth oppression.
The Newfoundland and Labrador environments are captured nicely by Scott McClellan’s traditional cinematography, but the film’s main strength is Percy Hynes-White’s breakout performance. He reminded me of a younger Tye Sheridan, which is a compliment since Sheridan has graduated from being a child actor. If Percy keeps on this acting track, he’ll easily fill Sheridan’s shoes.