An Audience of Chairs isn’t just one movie. This new film from Deanne Foley (Relative Happiness) based on Joan Clark’s novel of the same name appears to be a sombre Canadian drama that you prepare for by stuffing your pockets full of tissue. While it is a tear-jerker, it’s also a character drama, a romance, and a message film. And, surprisingly enough, Foley pulls off this trifecta.
Carolina Bartczak is terrific as Maura Mackenzie, a pianist who has psychologically distanced herself from her family. Her attitude stresses us out until we find out that Maura’s choice to be distant isn’t entirely her own. Memories of neglect and discipline catch up to the musician as her past drives a wedge through Maura’s current life. We see how Maura is treated once diagnosed with a mental illness, most notably by her husband Duncan (Christopher Jacot) who wants to protect their children but, at the same time, is very arrogant towards his wife. It’s tough to watch; making the film’s conflict of living with a mental illness versus the reaction of others very effective. The film bounces back, however, and becomes an encouraging story about how persevering leads to compassion from others.
An Audience of Chairs is an example of a movie that could be longer. Movie goers are rushed from the get-go without much characterization about Maura’s history, other than knowing she’s an incredibly talented classical pianist. Even an extra ten minutes added to the beginning exploring her private life would’ve benefited the story and given audiences more context. But, despite this criticism, An Audience of Chairs is still a very good movie that offers movie goers ideas to absorb and think about afterwards.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie