Thursday, 31 August 2017

THREADS, CHARLES - Reviews By Greg Klymkiw - NFB at TIFF 2017 soars with joy and sadness

Life leads us from the frogs.

Charles (2017)
Dir. Dominic Etienne Simard

Review By Greg Klymkiw

In a mostly monochrome world, doughy lad Charles tends to his gargantuan lolly-gagging mother in a squalid flat. There are simple joys, of course, his beloved frogs, school and dips in the nearby lake. Dollops of colour, albeit pale and/or muted keep threatening to bring joy and solace, but they are fleeting.

Colour eventually explodes in the form of rising blue waters threatening to drown him. Will he be rescued? And whom or what will rescue him? Will it indeed be life itself? And oh, when it rains, what will rain down? Frogs? Kitty cats? Doggies? Big pudgy baby bears?

And will he find happiness?

Or is it, ultimately, imagination that will provide the ultimate freedom?

In Dominic Etienne Simard's Charles (a National Film Board of Canada co-production with France), it is the waters of time and the long, slow march to adulthood and freedom that await. The journey will, like so much of our lives, prove to be bittersweet. The film's gorgeous expressive visuals fill in all the blanks and finally, we're left with a work that soars with a great, though sometimes terrible beauty.


Charles plays at TIFF 2017.

The ties that bind hang by a thread.

Threads (2017)
Dir. Torill Kove

Review By Greg Klymkiw

To hang by a thread usually suggests imminent danger, something unstable and/or doomed to failure. In Oscar-Winner Torill Kove's lovely and simple animated short (a National Film Board of Canada co-production with Norway), it's the ties that bind which hang by a thread; a slender thread indeed.

This delicate and moving work details the life of a young woman who grabs a thread dangling from the heavens and allows it to hoist her upwards on a journey we come to recognize as life.

When she finds another thread, it's attached to an infant. She and the little girl are inseparable. Though the child grows incrementally into adulthood, they're bound together by that mysterious thread. Even when the thread leads the child to peers on a playground and, for a time, completely out of the mother's purview, the thread remains.

But the day comes, one we all dread I think, when when her daughter must sever the tie that binds to jump up to the heavens, to clutch her own thread.

As a single Dad to a teenage daughter the film inspired so many personal memories of past and present. It provided both solace and melancholy as I, like the mother in the film, face the imminent severing of my own thread to my own child. Yes, we dread the severance, but we also accept it. Life must go on and for those we love the dearest, our children, it must move forward.

There might not be anything new revealed in the sentiments and story revealed in the film, but its visual metaphor is one I welcomed, understood and responded to on a deep emotional level.

I suspect I'll not be alone in this.


Threads plays at TIFF 2017.