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Live Bait

Year: 1995
Language: English
Format: 16mm Black & White
Runtime: 84 min
Director: Bruce Sweeney
Producer: Bruce Sweeney
Writer: Bruce Sweeney
Cinematographer: David Pelletier
Editor: Ross Weber, Bruce Sweeney
Sound: Anthony Couture
Music: Don MacDonald, Sweet Willie
Cast: Jay Brazeau, Tom Scholte, Babz Chula, Kevin McNulty, David Lovgren, Micki Maunsell, Laara Sadiq
Production Company: Cypher Productions Ltd.

Trevor MacIntosh (Tom Scholte), an aloof, cynical twenty-three-year-old who has recently graduated from university, is confounded by sex. Still a virgin, still living at home with his parents, Trevor’s boyish cuteness and disarming manner draw women to him like honey draws flies, but he finds himself erectionally challenged by their urgent advances. Trevor’s perception of himself starts to become clearer when he takes a job as an assistant to Charlotte Peacock (Babz Chula), a vibrant, irrepressible and seductive sixty-five-year-old installation artist. After Trevor moves out on his own, his relationship with Charlotte becomes increasingly intimate. Meanwhile, his parents are forced to take a hard look at their own relationship when his mother (Micki Maunsell) discovers her uncommunicative husband’s (Kevin McNulty) many infidelities.

A wry, contemporary drama with a low-key wit, director Bruce Sweeney’s feature film debut – named Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival® – captures the elusive nature of artifice and absurdity that characterizes contemporary life on Canada’s West Coast. Spinning his caustic yet glib-free Gen-X tale with an informal, but elegant, naturalism, Sweeney immerses the viewer in a dysfunctional and dissatisfying suburban world of tree-lined streets, backyard barbeques and overprotective moms.

The casual unfolding of Sweeney’s narrative across a series of carefully composed, impeccably detailed, black-and-white tableaux belies the trenchant social critique rumbling just beneath the cool surface of the images. Seemingly inspired by the films of Jean Renoir and Douglas Sirk and, on occasion, reminiscent of Mike Nichols’s The Graduate (1972), Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude (1971) and Jim Jarmusch’s early films, Live Bait is a hip and humorous original.

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