Wednesday, 7 September 2016

HELLO DESTROYER - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TIFF 2016 - Blood on the Ice of Prince George

Hello Destroyer (2016)
Dir. Kevan Funk
Starring: Jared Abrahamson, Kurt Max Runte, Joe Dion Buffalo, Paul McGillion, Ian Tracey, Ben Cotton, Sara Canning, Maxwell Haynes, R.J. Fetherstonhaugh, Darren Mann, Shane Leydon, Phil Prajoux, David Lennon

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Prince George, British Columbia is often considered Canada's most dangerous city, but in Kevan Funk's dazzling feature-length debut Hello Destroyer, it's not the criminal element anyone need fear, but rather, Tyson Burr (Jared Abrahamson), the newest recruit of the city's minor league hockey team The Warriors. He's a goon, you see. His job is to provide muscle and he delivers the goods with a cool viciousness. He does, however, seem like a perfectly nice fellow in all other respects. He's soft-spoken, handsome, a loyal hard-working teammate and damn it all, downright introspective.

Egged on by his coaches and fellow players to deliver the goods, he's clearly a rising star-in-the-making; a burgeoning Tie Domi in the world of enforcers on skates. He does what it takes and accepts the meagre accolades of his leaders like a bruised, abused dog will still accept pats on the head from its abusing master.

Alas, there is something far more brutal and dangerous in the world of hockey than fists and lumber smashed into the teeth - it's politics. When Tyson's enforcing results in a horrifying and tragic incident during a game, our hero meets his biggest adversary of all; shame, shunning and aimlessness.

In addition to the most Canadian movie never made in Canada, Slap Shot, Canada itself has yielded a number of terrific pictures about its National Sport (Face Off, Paperback Hero, Goon), but none with the genuine force and power of Hello Destroyer. Writer-Director Kevan Funk paints a veritable portrait of Hell; a stylized blend of expressionism and neorealism that keeps us on the edge of our seats.

With cinematographer Benjamin Loeb, Funk seldom jumps out of the intensity of claustrophobic and downright chilling closeups - keeping us as intimate with Tyson as we'd ever want to be. This adds intensity, to be sure, but it contributes to both the confusion and humanity our hero represents. The compositions are always masterful and I applaud the almost-pitch-black opaque qualities of the images, forcing us to look deeply into the gloomiest pits of the game itself.

There are no false notes here. The performances range from juicily (appropriately) over-the-top to creepily deadpan. The film captures small-town Canadiana, team spirit and the dregs of its national support with verve and aplomb.


Hello Destroyer, a Northern Banner release, is playing at TIFF 2016.