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The High Cost of Living

Year: 2010
Language: English, French
Format: 35mm/Colour
Runtime: 92 minutes
Director: Deborah Chow
Producer: Kimberley Berlin, Susan Schneir
Executive Producer: Walter Klymkiw, Heidi Levitt
Cinematographer: Claudine Sauvé
Editor: Jonathan Alberts, Benjamin Duffield
Sound: Bruno Pucella
Music: Normand Corbeil
Cast: Zach Braff, Isabelle Blais, Patrick Labbé
Production Company: Suki Films Inc.
Production Designer: Susan MacQuarrie
International Sales Agents: Filmoption International

Though they lived in the same Montreal neighborhood, Nathalie Beauchamp (Isabelle Blais) and Henry Welles (Zach Braff) exist in completely different worlds. Eight months pregnant, Nathalie is anxiously preparing for the birth of her first child at her elegant and immaculate home. Henry casually weaves in and out of scruffy establishments, delivering illegal pharmaceuticals to his customers and pausing only to drink and dance with friends. Their lives fatefully collide one night in a car accident; Henry hits Nathalie and, in a panic, cuts and runs.

Beset by guilt, Henry sets out to find Nathalie and is relieved to discover she survived the accident. But he doesn’t stop there and seeks out a chance meeting while concealing his involvement in the crash. When Nathalie shares the news that her child did not survive and that she must give birth to her stillborn daughter, it shakes Henry to the core. Thus begins the focus of Deborah Chow’s intimate and deftly directed debut: the burgeoning relationship between this unlikely pair.

Although married, Nathalie’s wound-up, workaholic husband is unavailable and inattentive. Henry seems just the opposite – caring, charming and fun -- and he easily slips into the role of her friend and confidant. As the police intensify their search for the hit-and-run driver, Henry’s past misdeeds and the looming question of how he will tell her the truth begin to take centre stage.

A marvel in her raw performance as a woman carrying the tragic reminder of a shattered dream, Blais is the perfect counterpoint to Braff’s conflicted Henry, who manages to earn our sympathies in unexpected ways. The two capture the cross-currents of emotion in their inevitably doomed relationship and enliven Chow’s fine script.

The High Cost of Living premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the Skyy Vodka award for best Canadian first feature, and was named one of Canada’s Top Ten films of 2010 by an independent panel of Canadian filmmakers, programmers, journalists, and industry professionals.

By: Agata Smoluch del Sorbo