Wilby Wonderful (2004)

My Canadian friend, Emily, and I joke that I should move to her beloved Nova Scotia at once. After watching “Wilby Wonderful,” I might just do that (even though they have freezing fog there–what the hell is that about???)

In looking back at my films for 2012 thus far, I note that there are not a lot of Canadian films. I have Swedish movies. Films from Belgium and Germany, and a couple Kevin Smith films all the way from New Jersey. But nothing from Canada.

“Wilby Wonderful” is a beautifully made, heartfelt dramedy, about a small island community. Like many small towns, this place has a high per capita eccentric rate.

I’m not going to write much about this, but here’s the basic idea. Wilby is a small island community. The town’s newspaper is about to print a list of people who have apparently caught The Gay, and have been gaying it up at a beautiful, unspoiled nature area called Wilby Watch. One of those soon to be outed has decided to kill himself. Suicide is not funny, but this poor guy keeps trying, and somebody always interrupts him. The sheriff is married to a Type-AAAAAA realtor, and he seeks refuge with the former skankiest girl from his high school class. Her daughter is 16-ish, and is on the cusp of her first sexual relationship. (Daughter is Ellen Page, from “Juno,” “Hard Candy,” “Inception,” etc–one of the best young actresses around) Anyway, the wily sheriff figures out who is besmirching Wilby Watch as a hotbed of gayness, and their motives for doing so. Things climax and resolve nicely. Roll credits.

What I really loved about this film is the heart and rhythms of a small town. It reminded me of films like “Lars & The Real Girl” and “Mystic Pizza,” where small communities keep to themselves, and move in their little circles. The pace is unhurried, despite all the activity taking place, and the characters aren’t so much developed as just allowed to BE. I never knew what was going to happen next, but it never bothered me. The film unfolded at its own pace, and I was in no hurry. It was nice to spend 90 minutes simply enjoying a film: I didn’t have to think much, nor did I have to react strongly to any particular characters. Again, in a small town, everyone plays his or her part.

One other thing. The original musical score by Michael Timmins really enhanced the film. It avoided syrupy strings and flatulent brass. The tempo and sound were laid-back, like the movie. Like life in a small town. Like “Juno,” there were a number of alternafolk songs playing from scene to scene, but Timmins’ score really evoked the beauty and peacefulness of Wilby. One notable, glaring exception was a fiery Beethoven piano sonata, which foreshadowed the impending climax. Good stuff.

“Wilby Wonderful” is not a Big Movie about Big Things. It’s small and comfortable, and a really nice place to visit for awhile.

I wonder if my friend Emily has a guestroom I can use.

Grade: A

4 Responses to “Wilby Wonderful (2004)”

  1. Sounds like just my cup of tea! Have you seen or read The Shipping News? That made me want to head to Newfoundland at once. Reminded me of the wacky little community where my husband’s family live.

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