There is no bigger proponent of Canadian cinema than myself. If a film really captures me, I’ll go out of my way to champion it. Low budget, undetectable indies sometimes need that extra push. However, no matter if the film is big or small, if the end result is wildly inconsistent, I have to throw in the towel. Case in point: Navin Ramaswaran’s shockingly inept Chasing Valentine.
With great difficulty, Chasing Valentine tells the story of a man (Chase played by Adam Langton) whose girlfriend leaves him before suddenly dying, after which he becomes depressed, starts editing porn and meets a girl named Valentine (Gwenlyn Cumyn). Right away, the movie’s visual presentation looks amateurish: soft shots, occasionally cutting in and out of focus with little significance to the rest of the scene. Additionally, the screenplay (written by Ramaswaran and Neal Avram Schneider) is tone deaf and has no idea what it wants to be. Is the film a romance? A romantic thriller? A quirky comedy? Even the staging in Chasing Valentine lacks professionalism with actors executing choreography and dialogue deliveries poorly.
Chasing Valentine manages to have conflicting issues, which is kind of amazing when you really think about it. It’s heavy-handed, but too fluffy to hold any importance. It meanders, but is held down by its strict focus. It is more shallow than a puddle, and less subtle than an anvil falling from the sky. The film clearly isn’t a comedy, but it could have very easily been called Quirk: The Movie. Red flags are raised when penguin costumes are gratuitously utilized, and an Oscar statuette is displayed only for the filmmaker to make a random remark about cinema – we’re only three minutes in. Unrealistic archetypes and pointless gimmickry are stacked against the film, as well as Valentine’s uninspired Pixie Girl characterization which would make Zooey Deschanel blush.
Rather than continuing to list more of Chasing Valentine’s flaws, I think you get the point. However, if you decide to skip Navin Ramaswaran’s film, look at what else is playing and support another film at the Canadian Film Festival.
Chasing Valentine screens at Toronto’s Canadian Film Festival on Saturday, April 2 at 5:15 pm at The Royal Cinema.