Thursday, July 11, 2013

Everyone wants to be special here ; Conversion (2011)

Disclaimer first. I know and quite like the director, writer/star and other star of this little Canadian independent. In fact I was almost in it had my schedule in 2011 brought me into Montreal on the days of the week matching up with their shooting schedule. (It brought me to the right city just not the right three days of the week) So I can quite happily say with full confidence that this was the best film I was almost in I have ever seen. (That's a category bigger than one as well; like many people appendaged to Melbourne's goth/underground scene I could have turned up to the concert shoot for Queen of the Damned. I didn't and am not looking back and still hold the above statement to be true.)

Conversion is a self financed and produced film from Canadian writer Kate Macdonald and Director Dominic Marceau. Macdonald herself stars as Julia alongside Paul Ash as Seth, as a pair of thirty something friends stuck in deadend jobs. The film follows the pair as they attempt to forget their hated wage-slave jobs in the city's nightlife and each others company. One night however they miss the last metro home and are stranded in the city low on cash..

What proceeds that faithful event is a sort of suburban version of the Odyssey, as the pair drift between surreal set pieces whilst waiting for the dawn and their inevitable return to real life. This is all shot against the backdrop of the colorful urban environment of Montreal which is transformed into an everycity just as Seth and Julia are sort of microcosms of everyone who desires to be more than their 9 to 5. (The purposeful omission of landmarks such as the Montreal Olympic Stadium or the Neon Cross for example makes it hard to pick out what city the film is set in unless you have actually been to Montreal) What they encounter is the world that exists outside the gaze of the 9-5 day and in many cases are confused, frustrated and frightened of what they find in the neon-lit graffiti painted maze of the city.

While Paul Ash has some acting to his credit, (he is a notable standup comedian as well) the majority of the cast are not professional actors and the performances are good overall. The dialogue is witty and subtle, the production is top notch in all departments; the lack of budget almost never creeps in at all. Possibly the only criticism I can summon is the dialogue is very stagey in delivery; ie. Person A speaks, Person B speaks, Person A speaks etc. There isn't much cross talk and you can detect the slight pause the actors take allowing each other to complete their lines. But honestly the script itself is so good and the lines delivered universally well that you barely notice that structure.

Conversion is really a wonderful example of what a real independent production is capable of, it is a labor of love for its creators and it really shows in every frame. It is also, in a word that I have become increasingly fond of when describing film, very articulate cinematicaly; something that cannot be said for a large majority of films coming out now days.
Conversion is available world wide through Vimeo streaming. (Yes it even works in Australia which is unique amongst such services)