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Year: 1987
Language: English
Format: 16mm Colour
Runtime: 70 min
Director: Don Owen
Producer: Don Owen
Executive Producer: Don Haig
Cinematographer: Douglas Koch, John Hertzog
Editor: Michael Todd
Sound: Christopher Leech
Cast: Jane Gibson, Judith Gault
Production Company: Zebra Films
Conceived as a companion piece to Notes for a Film About Donna & Gail, Owen’s most recent feature, Turnabout, focuses on two women: Alexandra (Judith MacDougall, née Gault), who is comfortably ensconced in an upper-middle-class relationship, and Crystal (Jane Gibson from Unfinished Business), who lives in a housing project and supports her unemployed bouncer boyfriend. They meet by chance at a grocery store in Cabbagetown, a Toronto neighbourhood home to both the very poor and the very wealthy. Acquaintances from high school, they become fast friends, largely because both desire what the other has; Alexandra is bored with her sequestered existence, while Crystal is tired of living hand-to-mouth.

Based in part on an Oscar Wilde aphorism about the dangers of getting what you want, Turnabout is part documentary, part fractured fairytale. The result is an intriguing mix, a film that, like Notes, combines documentary-style realism with broader, near-metaphysical issues. As the film proceeds, we hear Alexandra and Crystal offer entirely different accounts of the same event; Owen also has them chant identical assessments of events until we’re not sure who is speaking. Forlorn and strangely muted, Turnabout shows Owen still playing with the medium to uncover its possibilities.

By: Steve Gravestock

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