Canadian Film Fest 2019: Our Review of ‘Pond Life’

Canadian Film Fest 2019: Our Review of ‘Pond Life’

Writer/director Gord Rand’s Pond Life (based on his play of the same name) is listed as a comedy, but comes across as so ugly and petty that it never approaches laughs. The story revolves around couple Dick (Ryan Blakely) and Sandy (Jeanie Calleja) inviting Sandy’s foster sister Daisy (Kerry McPherson) and her boyfriend Richard (Ryan McVittie) to a dinner party to inform the latter couple of their pregnancy. What follows is a rather foul treatise on the hollowness of human relationships, and which also presents a sinister subplot that feels completely out of place.

The film has a play-like feel, largely taking place in one location with the four main characters (bolstered by a fifth with little screen time, and a never-seen narrator). While the ensemble do their best to find the cadence in their dialogue, the rhythm is occasionally so fast that one misses lines, as though the filmmaker was going for a David Mamet tempo that gets lost in the edit.

We’ve all been at that party where the host couple drink too much, argue, and it gets uncomfortable. I understand that’s what the film was going for, but from the outside looking in, we should be able to appreciate it from a gallows humour perspective. Unfortunately, there is very little actual humour in this film – just cruelty and spite. Ultimately, it feels like a joyless adaptation of Danny DeVito’s The War of the Roses.

The sinister subplot comes almost as an afterthought, after the movie doubles down on trying to be edgy. I was not offended, but there are certainly those that will be.

Pond Life boasts decent performances from a cast doing its best, as well as some solid cinematography, but fails to be meaningful in any way.

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