Rejuvenating: Our Canadian Film Festival review of ‘The Sabbatical’

Rejuvenating: Our Canadian Film Festival review of ‘The Sabbatical’

Midlife crises can manifest themselves in a variety of ways, and lead to any number of uncontrollable behaviors. With proper focus and welcome perspective in a familiar story, The Sabbatical offers a view of such a sudden breakdown with comedy and heart.

We first meet professor James Pittman (James Whittingham) as he sifts through some less than flattering student reviews, which comment on how boring he makes class as well as critique his portly stature. He’s immediately sympathetic, in part because he seems to take things in stride, more matter-of-fact than anything else. Whittingham also perfectly captures a man who while reserved, is more than most one-note characters who are placed within this mid-life crisis movie template.

It’s the commonly told tale of a man in need of inspiration who comes across a youthful influence. Here it’s Lucy (Laura Abramsen), an artist who quickly connects with James, inspires his photography, and helps him break free.

From Brian Stockton, The Sabbatical succeeds with its restraint, focusing on these two characters as individuals and not simply the caricatures they easily could be. And it sure does stay careful not to exaggerate for the sake of telling a good story. That’s because for all the possibilities that deal with love and loss and expression, The Sabbatical has the strength of its convictions. James indeed has a passion, as well as a supportive and savvy wife, while Lucy has plenty going on in her life. She is the redheaded expressionist should of life and curiosity, but also grounded in reality. These aren’t lost souls so much as two people in need or want of recharging and new experiences.

Importantly, they are two we want to spend time with, in their awkward, clever, and goofy glory. It’s not about some cataclysmic change, but instead finding a spark and getting yourself back together.

The Sabbatical screens on Friday, April 1 at 7pm as part of the Canadian Film Festival

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.