2014 Canadian Film Fest: H&G – Capsule Review

Director: Danishka Esterhazy
Writer: Danishka Esterhazy
Actors: Breazy Diduck-Wilson, Annika Elyse Irving
Runtime: 95 Minutes

We live in a time where classic stories are constantly being utilized to create Hollywood blockbusters that take the tales and morph them into a violent sensory experience full of well known stars. It is quite refreshing to be able to witness a more mellow take on a classic fairy tale. Gemma (Breazy Diduck-Wilson) and Harley (Annika Elyse Irving) are siblings who, despite having a loving mother, clearly lack a life of commodities. After their mother fights with her seemingly harmless boyfriend, Gemma and Harley end up stranded and alone on the highway, with no signs of their mother. They find their way to a farm, where an aloof young man feeds them and offers them shelter. Although seemingly benevolent, it becomes clear that the kids are not entirely safe in this new environment, and they must depend on each other if they are to come out unharmed. The film relies heavily on the acting of the two children, on whom the camera focuses most of the time. It is impressive to witness their acting, which is remarkably superior to the acting of the adults in the film. Cinematographically, however, the focus on the children is a tad much, and the lingering shots of them playing go from enjoyable to irritating very quickly. Understandably, the film needs to create a contrast between the childrens’s innocence and the evils that surround them, but this feat could have been achieved in a less jarring manner if only their state of danger was better explained. It is hard to completely mistrust their captor, because the indicators of his evil are way too subtle to truly mortify the spectator. However, there is a very nerve-wracking sense created by the film that carries through to the end, and keeps the spectator interested in the fate of Harley and Gemma. Cold and calm, H&G is sure to find its audience in those interested on a new take on a classic tale with a much more sinister and real atmosphere than the original.

Rating: 5/10

H&G plays March 22 at 6:30pm at The Royal Cinema.