Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Folk Hero & Funny Guy (EIFF 17)

The closing film of the Edmonton International Film Festival was a quirky buddy road film written and directed by Jeff Grace (who was there for a Q&A afterwards). It’s called Folk Hero & Funny Guy. The funny guy (Paul, played by Alex Karpovsky) is a stand-up comedian who isn’t very funny but doesn’t pick up on the signals. The folk hero is a popular singer-songwriter (folk music) named Jason (Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt and Goldie), who can do no wrong. When Jason invites Paul (they’ve been friends since childhood) to join him on his solo tour, opening with a comedy act before his own performance, it seems like a good idea. But Paul continues continues to strike out with the crowds (and with the women, who all adore Jason).

One woman in particular is at the heart of the problem. Bryn (Meredith Hagner) is another folk musician whom Paul and Jason meet on the road. Paul, who’s coming off a failed relationship, is immediately attracted to Bryn and begins slowly to get to know her, only to have Jason swoop in (after Paul’s gone) and take over. When Jason invited Bryn to join the tour, all kinds of tension ensue, and the road trip continues to go downhill for Paul, though there are signs of hope.

The acting by the three leads is excellent, especially because of the chemistry between them. The cinematography and score are likewise strong.

Folk Hero & Funny Guy is Grace’s first feature film and he is to be congratulated on making a fresh and entertaining indie road flick with a number of very enjoyable scenes. Unfortunately, too many other scenes (like most of those in hotel rooms) didn’t work for me at all. And while Karpovsky’s performance was the best in the film, his character (Paul) was too hard for me to sympathize with (I kept wanting to shake some sense into him). As a result, I can’t give Folk Hero & Funny Guy more than a solid ***. My mug is up. 

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