Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Every which way

Hear me, see me, feel me, etc., in a parable of awakening.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 9, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Shades of Rohmer in The Five Senses.
  • Shades of Rohmer in The Five Senses.
Canadian writer-director Jeremy Podeswa’s second film is based on a gimmick, but quickly moves beyond the obvious (characters defined by one of the senses) to create a lovely tale of unexpected second chances. The multiple characters who populate Podeswa’s tale are all city dwellers who feel strangely isolated, unable to see the world beyond the rigid boundaries they’ve established.

It matters little to Rona (Mary-Louise Parker) that the beautiful cakes she designs are nearly inedible. She’s concerned with the imminent arrival of a man she met while vacationing in Italy, who could potentially complicate (and spice up) her life. Her regular confidante is the equally neurotic Robert (Daniel MacIvor), a house cleaner who has come to believe that he can detect the scent of love. While Rona is rattled by change, Robert is methodically tracking down his former lovers, trying to detect the smell of a missed opportunity for happiness.

Meanwhile, in Rona’s building, other lives are quietly falling apart. Ruth (Gabrielle Rose) continues to provide healing massages while unable to reach out to her increasingly distant and sullen teenage daughter, Rachel (Nadia Litz). Richard (Philippe Volter), whose medical specialty is the eyes, finds himself slowly going deaf, and he commences a journey to listen to his favorite sounds before they’re gone.

The various stories are tied together by the disappearance of a child who was in Rachel’s care while Ruth was giving a massage to her mother, Anna (Molly Parker). The immediacy of this situation serves to shock these characters out of their complacency, forcing them out of their ruts to explore new possibilities.

There’s more than a little Eric Rohmer in The Five Senses, with its desire to provide these characters with a small epiphany and some welcome happiness, yet Podeswa also employs the cool detachment of his contemporary, Atom Egoyan. It’s a particular tone that can best be described as autumnal, that time when the air is getting chilly, but the sun still radiates warmth. Just as these characters are preparing themselves for another Toronto winter, they are granted the emotional equivalent of an early spring.

Opens Friday exclusively at the Maple Art Theatre (4135 W. Maple, west of Telegraph). Call 248-542-0180.

Serena Donadoni writes about film and culture for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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