reviewed by Marc
Grown Up Movie Star
Adriana Maggs, director and scriptwriter
Starring: Tatiana Maslany (Ruby), Shawn Doyle (Ray), Steve Cochrane (James), Jonny Harris (Stuart), Julia Kennedy (Rose), Mary Lewis (Dara), Andy Jones (Bill), Sherry White (Lillian)
The only Canadian feature drama at this year’s Sundance festival, Grown Up Movie Star is the offbeat tale of Ruby, a funny, sexy, charismatic adolescent girl, who is careening towards adulthood in a small Newfoundland town. To call her family dysfunctional would be an understatement. Ruby and her little sister Rose are being raised solo by their feckless dad Ray, a hockey player who went from town hero to clown when his NHL career was derailed due to a bust for importing marijuana from the States. Ray, Ruby and Rose may love each other but they all seem to be suffering from abandonment issues since Lillian, their mother and Ray’s wife, took off for California—with another man.
Turns out Lillian might not have made a bad call in leaving Ray. Not only is he a former pothead, now he’s finally thinking about coming out of the closet. Ray may be accepting his homosexuality but nobody else is—not Ruby or Rose or their gruff grandfather Bill, a retired military man. Women flock around Ray but his eyes are on the local hockey coach.
Meanwhile “uncle” Stu, who lost the use of his legs in a hunting accident caused by Ray, is developing an interest in photography—and in photographing Ruby. And you thought life might be boring in a small town in Newfoundland in the middle of winter!
Grown Up Movie Star is the first feature by Adriana Maggs, a born and bred Islander from Corner Brook. Like most Newfoundland tales, the film shifts emotional gears rapidly, moving from quirky to sad to funny to tragic all too abruptly. The one constant in this whirlwind of a ride is Tatiana Maslany, who makes you believe in Ruby’s challenging, lurching understanding of parents and grandparents and school and sex.
That was enough for Sundance’s programmers but it’s unlikely to persuade a general movie going audience. But we’re sure to see Ms. Maslany again—and hopefully Ms. Maggs, too.