"My my...an interesting, dark Canadian drama! So rare!"
As "Siblings" opens, a grandfather drops dead in nearly the first minute. As we can tell from the conversation between he and his grandson, something is not right with the family and the grandfather's death means certain trouble for everyone involved.All four siblings have lousy, abusive step-parents (Nicholas Campbell and Sonja Smith) that have remarried so often that their blood relations are completely mixed up. Joe (Alex Campbell), the oldest, wants nothing more than to turn 18 and part ways with the parental units. Margaret (Sarah Gadon) is a promiscous teen who ventures out for quickie sex every now and then. The two kids Danielle and Pete (Samantha Weinstein and Andrew Chalmers) are trying to cope without Grandfather, who appeared to be a good anchor for the household.
One day, Alex wishes murder on gets the idea to remove important break parts from the family car. The plan works but even more so than expected. The car careens off a cliff and kills them, leaving the kids to cover it all up. Fearing persecution -- although they could claim one of the kids was working on the car and the parents drove off without looking -- the cover-up causes much trouble for the kids as the days go on and they can't lie forever. Someone is going to find out.
Did I mention this film has a lot of black humour? Much of the surprise of the film comes from the director David Weaver and Jackie May's script which surprises us when least expected. "I'm not retarded, I just wear glasses," pleads Danielle, the film's most notable child, not only for her adorable thick-rimmed glasses but her complete lack of faith in the world. One of the film's funniest scenes has Danielle reciting a death-filled poem at a Christmas paegant. Another amusing character is Tom McCamus' (from "Century Hotel") lawyer who would rather solve a problem illegally if it's faster rather than work everything out within the realms of the law."Siblings" is a surprisingly edgy and funny black comedy, even more so coming from Canada which normally keeps its roots in intimate character studies. While this is a low-budget produced film, it has enough humour and sharp writing to note this as a step forward. I could have done without some of the techno-filled score and a couple of the supporting characters (Sarah Polley's Tabby for one, most notably because she provides somewhat of a silly love interest to Joe that never really convinced me), but it is much funnier and likable than expected, unless you're easily offended by the idea of dead people. But it works in comedy.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.