Kevan Funk’s Hello Destroyer, a complicated and clinical disclosure of the underlying traumas associated with hockey, was well-received at TIFF last year for a good reason: there aren’t many films brave enough to de-mythologize Canada’s national sport.
Hello Destroyer follows the aftermath of an in-game altercation in which Tyson Burr (Jared Abrahamson) knocks another player unconscious. Burr’s downfall is precipitous: he’s suspended indefinitely, forced onto the streets, and becomes a controversial local figure. Writer/director Funk’s grim depiction of Burr’s psychological and social breakdown deserves merit for its attention to realism and consequence, as well as the association with masculinity and violence left implicit throughout the screenplay.
The unrelenting atmospheric dourness is complemented by cinematographer Benjamin Loeb’s willingness to let his camera linger for a few seconds more than it otherwise might. Often looking into Tyson’s life either from a distance or through some mediating force (mirrors, windows, etc.), Loeb’s clinical camerawork here characterizes the film as a study of trauma and mental illness.
Hello Destroyer avoids providing alternatives and answers to the issues it raises, unlike films such as 2015’s Concussion, and sparsely intimates the role of Canadian nationalism in the dark side of hockey. It is, nonetheless, a brave and solid debut film that establishes Funk as a talented emerging Canadian filmmaker.
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Mark Barber: @WorstCinephile