Friday, September 17, 2004

The Rowdyman


Every year the TIFF takes a classic Canadian film and makes a new restored print of the film. They screen it under the heading "Canada Open Vault". This years film was a golden oldie. One of the first major works of Canadian Cinema, written and starring an acting legend (O.K., only if you actually live in Canada) : Gordon Pinsent. It is the portriat of a jolly newfoundland fellow who has an infectuous desire to have fun and refuses to grow up. As the rest of his schoolmates get married, move away and leave his home town (Corner Brook, NFLD) things get complicated for him until he nearly breaks.
The film is all about Pinsent's performance which makes his aging boyish cad a very likeable fellow. And his character is not as simple as you first would think, his weekly visits to meet girls in St. John's include a trip to the old age home where he has a bond with an elderly patient who was once a womanizing legend himself. The conversations and body language between these two are at once tangential to the films narrative, but come back to the core of the picture. How to deal with yourself once you have spotted "the girl" that got away, the one you should have married.
What is great about this movie is that it is just damn fine storytelling (easy to follow, but subtly complex). A happier companion piece to another Canadian classic of Newfie losers who can't grow up, Going Down The Road, which came out only a year prior to The Rowdyman. These two films defined much of what types of Canadian films were made for a decade an a half as the Canadian Film scene was getting underway.
Side note: It was nice to see trains running in Newfoundland in this picture. The provincial government pulled all the railway tracks on the island up in the 1980s due to incompatible (with the mainland) rail standards .

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Kurt,

I enjoyed reading your commentary about "The Rowdyman" and I only learned about the movie today. However, being a Newfoundlander, I took offense to your term "Newfie loser". Please speak/write with good intention and consider the message you're trying to convey. With such a great film site, I am sure you want to appeal to every audience. Thank you.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Kurt Halfyard said...

My own background is from Newfoundland. I do not use the phrase lightly, or to paint with a wide brush. Canadian cinema often follows the downtrodden and unsuccessful without necessarily working redemption into the narrative. It is not my intention to say that this is just in Newfoundland, or even the East coast. A couple cases in point - Hard Core Logo (Dir. Bruce MacDonald, Ontario), Suspicious River (Dir. Lyne Stopkewich, British Columbia), Paperback Hero (Dir. Peter Pearson, Manitoba).

This has sort of been a Canadian Cinema tradition since the early 1970 up to present.

10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey man--great site.
"Goin' Down the Road" is actually about two Nova Scotians. An what an amazing film it is.

6:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you know where I can buy this movie. I have been searching for this for a long time and would like to get it on either DVD or VHS. Any help is appreciated. tiregawd@hotmail.com.

11:21 AM  
Blogger bill said...

how can i obtain a dvd or ? of this movie ?

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to get a copy of the movie the Rowdyman, I had seen it years ago and would love for my children to enjoy this wonderful film please email me judypower1099@rogers.com

1:20 AM  

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