Changing Colours: Our Review of ‘Lavender’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - November 06, 2016
Changing Colours: Our Review of ‘Lavender’

Have you ever gone to see a movie without knowing what to expect?  When you review films on a regular basis it happens all the time.  You are often called on to go in blind, sometimes not even knowing about a film’s plot or genre ahead of time. But it isn’t often that you come across a movie which leaves you still wondering what to expect almost halfway through the movie.  Lavender is the rare exception.

The film, from director Ed Gass-Donnelly, is the story of Jane (Abbie Cronish), a wife and mother whose mysterious and forgotten past begins to come into focus after she suffers a brain injury and unexplainable things begin to happen.  As she attempts to put the pieces together she discovers not only that her past may be more traumatic than she imagined but also that she and her family may be in greater danger than she ever could have guessed.

It’s a movie that doesn’t seem to know what kind of film it is at all.  The first half plays like a family drama with a hint of mystery at its core.  The only indication that there may be more at play is the oppressive and ominous score which thunders over the placid, rural scenery.  Then about halfway through the film it morphs into a thriller, only to change again into a psychological horror.

Once it has settled on a genre the film actually improves remarkably.  Seemingly inexplicable decisions and omissions from earlier in the movie are explained and for a while at least it is legitimately creepy.  Here the director shows his real promise as a filmmaker, most notably in a jarring long take of a murder victim.  Unfortunately, the film does not maintain its improvement.  The big reveal of the trauma in Jane’s past is preposterous and unfortunately it continues to devolve from there.  Dumb decision follows dumb decision leading to a coda that borders on absurd.

Other than the issues with the script the film’s real failing is its inconsistent and seemingly ever changing tone.  What might have been an effective psychological horror plays as such for only a fraction of its running time.  That however is not enough to sustain the rest of the film.  Still there is enough here to make me hopeful that Gass-Donnelly has more to offer in the future and hopefully next time we will know what to expect from the beginning.

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Galadriel fell in love with the movies when she was taken to see Superman at the age of three. Legend has it she watched the whole thing standing up with her jaw on the floor. She went on to see Superman four more times in the theatre and developed a lifelong passion for film. Galadriel earned a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto which she parlayed into a ten year stint at Blockbuster Video and more recently a career in nursing. But some things never change – she still loves movies and counts Gone with the Wind, Amadeus, The Shawshank Redemption, La Dolce Vita and the films of Michelangelo Antonioni among her favourites. She is also obsessed with the Oscars and knows more about them than any one person should. Galadriel currently lives in Toronto with her husband and young daughter who is soon to see her very first movie in the theatre.