Blood Pressure is another low-budget Canadian film you will probably never have a chance to see. Once again, that’s a shame, because, for a small Canadian film, this is definitely worth a look.
Blood Pressure opens with the reading of an anonymous letter written to the protagonist, Nicole, a woman whose life has begun to feel weary and pointless. Nicole is the mother of two teenage children, for whom she is primarily the cook, lunch-maker and ride-provider. Her husband is on the road a lot (he has to travel to Winnipeg of all horrible places) and seems to take her for granted, ignoring her talk about a vacation to Mexico. And her work at a pharmacy, where her boss watches her every move and word like a hawk, is anything but life-giving.
The letter recognizes Nicole’s frustrations and the writer tells her that she deserves much better. If she would like to explore the potential of a more fulfilled life, all she has to do is put the enclosed green card in her living room window. If she does not do so, she will never hear from the writer again.
Blood Pressure does a good job of showing how Nicole’s unhappiness leads her to placing the green card in the window, but I didn’t buy her failure to wrestle with the obviously terrifying invasion of her privacy before doing so. Nicole ends up getting more letters and is set up with a variety of free activities which will make her come alive, but the invasion of her privacy becomes so blatant that she should be terrified about what’s happening to her.
The viewer, at least, is meant to feel constant suspense as we await whatever horrific resolution we feel must be in store in spite of the many pleasures the anonymous writer is providing for Nicole. I will say no more about that resolution, even if you are unlikely to see the film. I was not altogether satisfied by it, but at least it wasn’t predictable.
Insofar as Blood Pressure was exploring the way so many people today feel stuck in a rut, unable to find their way to a more fulfilling life, the film was satisfying and thought-provoking for me. But I wasn’t sold on the possible solutions offered to Nicole. Of course, that may be one of the points of the film, revealing how relatively ineffective those solutions were in comparison with the thrill Nicole felt in her connection with her mysterious admirer. Perhaps the film is saying that ultimately what we are all looking for is that magical connection with someone who understands us and makes us feel special and valued.
Blood Pressure is directed by Sean Garrity and stars Michelle Giroux as Nicole. Giroux isn’t outstanding, but she does well enough. Jonas Chernick is effective in a major supporting role. The camera work felt a little amateurish, but completely forgivable in a low-budget Canadian film. All in all, a solid *** effort. My mug is up.