If documentaries were solely graded on how much they teach, then Charles Wilkinson’s Vancouver: No Fixed Address would get full marks.
I personally had no idea that the housing market in Vancouver, BC was in this much jeopardy. Vancouver’s sophisticated reputation was daunting yet attractive when viewed though astonishing photography – I envy those who have travelled there. Wilkinson focuses on these delicate and decorative aspects of Vancouver, but when he started unravelling the increasingly troublesome history behind the city’s housing market, which also included blunt testimonials given by local observers, my head couldn’t stop spinning. Mind you, it’s difficult to name a city that doesn’t currently have a struggling population, but the results this doc uncovers are staggering and a scathing wake-up call.
Documentarian Wilkinson, however, loses points for using Vancouver’s scenery as a crutch. That may sound hypocritical considering I gave his previous doc Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World a rave review because it was a gorgeous treat. His filmmaking was efficient in Haida Gwaii since he was working with a picture-perfect hidden treasure and using its logging destruction as an affective tool for contrast. In Vancouver: No Fixed Address, he captures the interesting architecture, but he doesn’t do much else to match the love some inhabitants feel for the city. Plus, his choice to shoot key interviews with professionals on a deep black curtain is bizarre – he knows better. The only person who seems to stand out beyond the black is environmental activist David Suzuki. Then again, Suzuki hutzpah is impossible to camouflage – period.
Even though Wilkinson is showing some slack with his latest doc, Vancouver: No Fixed Address still acknowledges enough problems to deserve our attention.
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