Amanda Brugel (Kim’s Convenience, Becky) and Jonas Chernick (Borealis) are centre stage in Ashgrove, a two-hander character drama that serves as a great vehicle for both stars and an ethereal departure for filmmaker Jeremy LaLonde (The Go-Getters, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town).
Reuniting with LaLonde for more sci-fi after co-writing and starring in James vs. His Future Self, Chernick plays an exhausted husband, Jason, who is quietly observing his scientist wife Jennifer (Brugel) balance the weight of the world. Earth’s water supply is contaminated and it’s an ongoing epidemic – Jennifer’s one of the top individuals attached to the daunting task of finding a resolution. Due to the stressful nature of her job, Jennifer is ordered by her boss (Sugith Varughese of Kim’s Convenience and The Joke Thief) to take a fleeting weekend break. However, when Jennifer and Jason escape to a secluded house in the country, relaxation is sidelined by confrontations and confessions.
Ashgrove is a strong character piece headlined by two fascinating lead performances. The “mumblecore” inspired storytelling (which, I feel, becomes an allegory for the current pandemic) displays effective empathy and opens itself up to audiences who can relate to either Jennifer or Jason. Ashgrove, though, is a late bloomer. The third act welcomes some unexpected developments that challenge characters, but these new avenues needed to be introduced earlier as the film’s climax and not as a last minute twist.
Ashgrove airs on Saturday, March 26 at 9:00 pm on Super Channel as part of the Canadian Film Fest.
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