Film review: The Shape of Rex

Courtney Dickson, Arts & Entertainment Editor Ω

Vivien Endicott Douglas and Brett Donahue take the lead in the Canadian drama The Shape of Rex. Image courtesy Factoria Films

Vivien Endicott Douglas and Brett Donahue take the lead in the Canadian drama The Shape of Rex. Image courtesy Factoria Films

Factoria Films released their first full-length feature film in 2012, but it was most recently screened this past summer at The Royal in Toronto. Indie filmmakers Layne Coleman and William Hominuke teamed up to write, produce and direct the Canadian drama that few movie buffs have been privy to.

The film opens with present-day Rose (Monica Dottor), one of the main characters, going to see a lawyer (Ryan Hollyman), who she knew years before. Rex was her boyfriend when they were teenagers, and according to the rest of the story they were each other’s “true love.” When Rex sees Rose, there’s an immediate feeling of nostalgia and tension is apparent right within that first scene.

Both Rose and Rex are happily married to other people (Rose’s husband is played by the well-known Lorne Cardinal), however upon seeing one another, they both begin to question their marriages and viewers get a glimpse into their past. This leads to a passionate affair that takes its toll on each character.

The film jumps back and forth between the present and the ’80s, when Rose and Rex were experiencing love during their youth. Young Rose is played by the talented Vivien Endicott Douglas and is complimented by Brett Donahue, the handsome young Rex.

Though there are some strange scenes and corny phrases, they are dealt with beautifully, particularly the part where young Rose explained to Rex how she buried her newborn child at 14 and then proceeded to make Rex a sandwich. This, of course, all happens after an awkward sex scene. Also, rather than using the typical “555” to precede a phone number, the directors chose to put the number 244-7435 on the screen. If anyone wants to call that number, let me know if a young girl named Rose answers.

Compared to other Canadian films, the script, acting and camera work all exceeded expectations. The emotion and chemistry between young Rose and Rex seemed particularly authentic, which is likely why Douglas was nominated for an ACTRA award. Even still, the performances by Rose (Dottor) and her husband (Cardinal) gave Douglas a run for her money. Dottor portrayed the fear and obedience that any person in trouble with the one they are with ease.

This tale of adultery and nostalgia is not only dramatic, but educational in the sense that it uses Saskatoon’s landmarks to help tell the story. For those who have never visited the city, it may entice them to visit the prairies for its calm appearance. The cinematography was memorable, leaving the viewer with the feeling of a warm breeze on a quiet summer’s day.

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