Set in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood of Toronto, Great Great Great is the story of Lauren (Sarah Kolasky) and Tom (Dan Beirne), a couple in their early thirties whose relationship is coasting along steadily despite Tom’s inability to find steady employment as an urban planner. Nothing about Lauren and Tom‘s life is particularly awful: they eat food, they go to the gym, they have relationships with friends and family. Everything begins to fall apart when Lauren‘s parents announce that they are getting a divorce and she begins to question whether her current life (and relationship) is enough. The film attempts to explore that awkward, in-between stage of life – the pre-midlife crisis when there is no marriage or kids, when one is driven to wonder what they really want out of life, and how far they should go to get it.
What makes director Adam Garnet Jones’ drama so dull to watch isn’t its subject matter. The problem is that nothing really happens to the characters in the film, and the audience isn’t encouraged to care about the things that they do. Even Lauren, the protagonist, isn’t particularly well developed. She spends much of the film walking around looking moody. She doesn’t seem to have any interiority, and the audience isn’t given any insight into her motivations. The result is that we can’t connect with her or understand her actions. As Lauren becomes steadily more self-destructive over the course of Great Great Great, there is no reason to sympathize with her. The dialogue is also awkward and expository. Even characters that we are told have a strong connection speak to each other like strangers in impersonal, sometimes robotic, voices.
The cinematography is clearly meant to evoke the sleepwalking state of Lauren’s life. The colours are soft and muted, there is nothing sharp or abrasive here. While this approach is effective and leads to a consistent tone throughout the film, it isn’t memorable. Especially alongside the music – which sounds a bit like a lullaby – it produces an effect that, I imagine, was intended to be dreamy and detached, but it made it tough to keep my eyes open.
There aren’t many films I’ve watched that have been truly difficult to sit through. Most of the time, even when a film isn’t great (or even good), there is some spark that makes it interesting enough that a part of me is, at least, a little bit curious about the ending – this Canadian Film Fest winner didn’t have that spark. From just-okay camerawork and exposition-heavy dialogue, to a soft musical score that begs the audience to take a nap, Great Great Great is painfully boring from beginning to end.
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