In its opening minutes, Canvas invites comparison to one of those Jack Handy “Deep Thoughts” sketches from SNL. Minutes later it’s still rough-going, with Marcia Gay Harden’s Mary Marino flaunting her Overprotective Mother Syndrome when the Danny Pintauro lookalike she pushed out of her uterus walks in through the door with a smile on his face and a hole in his shirt. As soon as Mary cuts up one of Chris’s (Devon Gearhart) good shirts in order to patch the hole in the beat-up one, I was ready to bolt from the screening and go looking for a new pair of Converse because my old ones are falling apart, but I like Harden, and the need to find out if she would allow her performance to stoop to the grotesque level of Signorney Weaver’s dubious interpretation of autism spectrum in Marc Evan’s abysmal but hilarious Snow Cake finally won out. The good news is that she doesn’t, but that may have something to do with the fact that Harden only plays a schizophrenic, and the Oscar-winner practically disappears from the film after her character is institutionalized for a second time, leaving Chris and her husband John (Joe Pantoliano) to fend for themselves in their Hollywood, Florida home. The film indulges one of my bigger pet peeves by scoring its sweeter moments to cheap adult contemporary music, but writer-director Joseph Greco’s refusal to explain the roots of Mary’s madness gives John’s desperate desire to summon happier days—by building a boat in the family’s backyard—a bewitching poignancy. John builds while the whiny Chris sews, starting a bona fide business in school when the girls respond positively to the horror of his patched shirt; it’s the film’s queerest angle, but it’s also one of many unbelabored metaphors for Chris and John’s struggle to keep on truckin’. The sight of father and son sailing together, the absent Mary represented by the artwork used to patch the holes in the ship’s sail, is an image as resonant as the ocean is deep.
- Screen Media Films
- 101 min
- Joseph Greco
- Joseph Greco
- Joe Pantoliano, Marcia Gay Harden, Devon Gearhart, Sophia Bairley, Marcus Johns, Antony Del Rio
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