Sunday 3 May 2020

Movie Review: October Gale (2014)

A drama and thriller about grief and loss, October Gale sinks under the flimsy weight of incomplete ideas.

In Ontario, Helen (Patricia Clarkson) is a doctor still grieving the death of her husband, killed in a lake boating accident during a storm. She heads out to their isolated lakefront cottage, where memories of her marriage continue to haunt her. A power outage, no phone service and an impending storm heighten the sense of isolation.

Her solitude is shattered when a stranger with bullet in his shoulder washes up on her pier. His name is Will (Scott Speedman), and Helen nurses him back to health. Will reveals he served time in prison for accidentally killing a man, and the victim's father Tom (Tim Roth) is now tracking him down and wants him dead. Helen agrees to help and together they fortify the lakehouse, waiting for Tom's arrival.

A Canadian production written and directed by Ruba Nadda, October Gale suffers from a feathery script and unconvincing characters. The entire opening act is occupied with Helen cleaning the cottage and flashing back to intimate moments of cuddling with her deceased husband of 30 years. The middle third features the arrival of the wounded Will, an expert at running down the clock by revealing his story in micro-snippets.

And by the time the climax arrives, Helen's decision to get involved in the conflict of others only makes sense on the greasy napkin of bad movie ideas, and Tom's arrival and subsequent showdown exists in a void of rationality.

Patricia Clarkson frequently stops and stares into the middle distance, gradually realizing she deserved much better material. Scott Speedman enhances the narrative blankness, while Tim Roth gate-crashes proceedings, arriving straight from Quentin Tarantino mindspace.

October Gale anticipates a storm, but drowns in still waters.

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