New Waterford Girl
dir Allan Moyle scr Tricia Fish
with Liane Balaban, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Andrew McCarthy, Cathy Moriarty, Mary Walsh, Nicholas Campbell, Cassie MacDonald, Krista MacDonald, Darren Keay, Sue Dalton, Mark McKinney, Patricia Zentilli
release St Louis Film Fest Nov.00
awards Best Canadian First Feature, Special Jury Prize (Balaban)--Toronto 99
Alliance 00/Canada 1h30 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Bad girl. Mooney (Balaban) never expected it would be this hard to be easy.
With this offbeat coming-of-age comedy, director Moyle and writer Fish capture the unusual personality of both their 15-year-old protagonist and the isolated community in which she lives.

Agnes Marie (Balaban), better known as Mooney, is a fish out of water in her tiny Novia Scotia community. Everyone, including her family, thinks she's a bit off her rocker as she mopes around, cynical and aloof. A teacher (McCarthy) sees her spark and helps her find a way out--a scholarship to a Manhattan arts school. But her family just doesn't get it. Then a mambo teacher (Moriarty) and her daughter Lou (Spencer-Nairn) move in next door. And Mooney and Lou set out to shatter the town's preconceptions.

Low key and gentle in tone, the film has a blackly funny heart that compliments Derek Rogers' dark, lush cinematography. This isn't the kind of comedy you laugh out loud at; rather, it keeps you smiling and giggling as the characters interact, trying to figure each other out, and usually failing miserably. There are lots of subtle surprises throughout the film, clever little touches that give us insight into the situations and let us see ourselves, especially if we've ever felt like a fish out of water, unable to realise our dreams ... and too stubborn to let anyone help us.

[themes, language] 5.Nov.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall