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Flower & Garnet

Year: 2002
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 103 min
Director: Keith Behrman
Producer: Trish Dolman
Executive Producer: Dean English, Trish Dolman, Marguerite Pigott, Bryan Gliserman, Jessica Fraser, Alexandra Raffé
Writer: Keith Behrman
Cinematographer: Steve Cosens
Editor: Michael Bateman
Sound: James Genn, Paul Sharpe, Bill Mellow, Dave Hibbert
Music: Peter Allen
Cast: Craig Olejnik, Callum Rennie, Jane McGregor, Colin Roberts, Dov Tiefenbach, Kristen Thomson, Chilton Crane, Philip Granger
Production Company: Ministry of Extreme Circumstances Films Inc.

The product of an emotionally wounded family, eight-year-old Garnet’s (Colin Roberts) only reference points for a happy, functional life exist in the natural environment of his small British Columbia town. Garnet’s mother died giving birth to him, so he grows up eating his morning breakfast amid the tabletop clutter of his father Ed’s empty beer bottles. Ed (Callum Keith Rennie) goes through the motions of living; still saddened and filled with rage over his wife’s death, he is distant and rarely speaks, least of all to his children. Flower (Jan McGregor), a pretty, warm-hearted sixteen-year-old, has assumed the mothering role, but the demands of caring for her brother have begun to weigh upon her.

The sudden news of Flower’s pregnancy splits the family apart and she decides to pack up and leave home. Ed, who connects with Garnet only by twisting the boy’s fascination with life into a morbid detachment, buys his son a BB gun as a birthday gift. But this gesture, which eerily mirrors Ed’s depressed state, only pushes the troubled Garnet further toward the edge. Left to his own devices, Garnet begins to unravel, growing aberrant and violent. Soon, Ed must decide whether to face this new suffering that his years of silence have sown.

This auspicious first feature, a beautiful meditation on emotional isolation and the wonder of life, rests soundly on the finely wrought performances of its three principal actors and on director Keith Behrman’s keen eye for capturing the cracks in people’s emotional armour. Flower & Garnet’s honesty and simplicity can be attributed to Behrman’s assured script and clean direction, to cinematographer Steve Cosen’s stark images of landscapes and small connecting details, and to the honest performances and beautifully observed moments that astutely capture the impact of isolation and neglect on a young boy.

The film was very well received upon its Canadian release. It notched three Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Canadian Film, Best Director of a Canadian Film (Behrman) and Best Actor in a Canadian Film (Callum Keith Rennie); Behrman also received the Claude Jutra Award for Direction of a First Feature Film at the Genie Awards. Flower & Garnet was named one of Canada’s Top Ten of 2002 by a national panel of filmmakers, programmers, journalists and industry professionals.