The Marijuana Conspiracy, simply put, has no buzz. Unlike The Stanford Prison Experiment, a similar movie about impressionable and intelligent young minds involved in an important study, writer/director Craig Pryce has made a loosely-biographical bore that fails to captivate audiences with substance and style. The film does pride itself on costumes and make-up, and the design artists involved deserve their Canadian Screen Award nominations for their work. But, the film’s effort doesn’t exceed beyond its period surface.
The film chronicles the true story of a 98-day experiment in 1970s Toronto where several women were voluntarily confined and decently compensated to report on the effects of cannabis. When they weren’t measuring their results, they bonded with each other. Because of these relationships that grew from this experieince, The Marijuana Conspiracy relies heavily on its cast chemistry and character work. Unfortunately, Pryce’s film has all the panache of a period-set school play starring students who are only in attendance to receive their arts credit.
Despite the cast’s potential (including Kiss and Cry’s Brittany Bristow and Luke Bilyk, Honey Bee’s Julia Sarah Stone, and some other fresh faces), the actors never feel as if they’re on the same frequency with each other. Julia Sarah Stone’s performance, especially, feels like it belongs in a much more serious piece versus the other performers who are aiming for a Breakfast Club vibe. Because everyone is committed during this miscommunication, it’s tough to tell which actor is in the right. It appears Craig Pryce couldn’t decide either.
The film’s best part is its final scene that bookends the film and brings a contemporary lift to its material. But, it’s never a good sign when the best part of a two hour movie is a 30-second sequence at the end.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie