Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2023 6:52 am 
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GRAHAM FOY: THE MAIDEN (2022) - ND/NF 2023

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A poetic picture of teenage grieving

This beautifully slow, observational, touchingly restrained film from Alberta, Canada follows two high school boys who skateboard and wander the summer together, and then follows one of them when a tragic accident separates them, leaving the remaining one alone. The Maiden, named for the tag of the lost boy, touches on the oeuvre of Gus Van Sant sensitively, particularly Paranoid Park, weaving an artisanal magic of its own, capturing a magical mood with slowness.

The boys are the stockier Kyle (Jackson Sluiter), the leader, and his lanky, fuzzy-haired best friend Colton (Marcel T. Jiménez). Their talk is conventional, bland, laced with F-words, ordinary. They agree they have no plans for the next ten years. They emerge as distinct with a respectful little gesture. After they discover a dead cat in a construction space and, wanting to do something kind, carry out some ceremonial act, they decide to set the corpse adrift on a small raft down a river.

After the tragedy Foy follows Colton at school: his inarticulateness with a well-meaning but inept school counselor; a shop teacher's lack of sympathy when he acts out a little; an "enemy's" cruel note; a physical confrontation with the popular Stetson-wearng Tucker (Kaleb Blough), with an apology and a rapprochement. It's all wonderfully slow and desultory, the empty hours of school time beautiful captured. Foy is skillfully using non-actors throughout, not intervening too much, and it pays off.

Maiden gradually morphs from the naturalistic mode to something a little different when a girl from the school called Whitney (Hayley Ness) has disappeared, and Colton finds her battered notebook journal. This on-paper "voice" sounds communication linked with Kyle, and Colton enters almost a fantasy world that springs up as Colton pages through Whitney's diary - a change perfectly logical given how inarticulate he has been since he's lacked Kyle to talk to. Whitney emerges as a shy, sensitive girl who gets upset when her best friend, June (Sienna Yee), thinks it's time to move on. Here Jonathan Romney in Screen Daily thought Foy achieves a seemingly "impossible sift of register". into something dreamy and supernatural.

Jessica Kiang in Variety points out faults but is also admiring, as others are, of the 16mm photography by Kelly Jeffrey; and further, of the poetry the film achieves in its last section when it comes to appear that maybe Kyle and Whitney are united at film's end "in the vale beyond the veil." Patience is required, especially given the fixed-focus long shots and two-hour run time, but Foy rings successful changes on old themes, if we provide it.

The Maiden, 117 mins., debuted at the Biennale in Giornate degli Autori Sept. 6, 2022, also showing at Toronto, Göteborg, and Norway. Screened for this review as part of New Directors/New Films at MoMA and Lincoln Center (Mar. 29-Apr. 9, 2023).

Tuesday, April 4
8:30pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Graham Foy)
Wednesday, April 5
6:00pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Graham Foy)

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©Chris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


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