Saturday, 5 March 2011

Defendor

Recently, I enjoyed a Canadian movie about a super hero of sorts. Defendor’s (Arthur Poppington’s) superpowers are his courage and his freedom from the ability to over-think his way into passivity. I suppose one might also want to add a little creativity for developing his own weaponry – a brilliant mix of appropriately boyish ideas combined with a trench club inherited from his grandfather.

The movie is billed as a comedy, which may have hurt some of the responses to the film. Certainly it has its comic touches that are often quite effective (“No, not the lime juice” comes to mind). But it is also a relatively serious drama that explores significant themes. Some have charged that the result is an uneven tone or a lack of cohesion, but I thought it all worked together fairly well. Sure, there were a few things that could have been done a little better, but for a low budget movie the results are excellent. The acting all around is top notch. Woody Harrelson is perfect in the main role and it’s hard to find any real shortcomings in all the supporting roles.

You might argue, Vic, that the film contains traces of the ubiquitous myth of redemptive violence, which it does – his trench club is not used lightly. However, in a world of guns, Arthur’s refusal to turn to lethal force (“Guns are for cowards”) is at least a step in the right direction. The movie brought to mind Gandhi’s belief that cowardice and passivity are worse than violence.

I loved that Arthur’s friend and protector is not family. And I loved that connecting one-on-one with Kat made it impossible for Arthur to stay in his Defendor voice – a solid reminder that the main thing that brings out the weirdest parts of mental illness is isolation. I’m a little on the fence, but since it’s a low budget Canadian movie and since critics have often been too harsh with it, I’m going to give it ****

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