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Year: 1990
Language: English
Format: 16mm Colour
Runtime: 96 min
Director: Darrell Wasyk
Producer: Darrell Wasyk, Stavros Stavrides
Writer: Darrell Wasyk
Cinematographer: Gerald Packer
Editor: Tom McMurtry
Sound: Tom McMurtry
Music: Bob Carroll
Cast: Martin Neufeld, Bruce Beaton, Ingrid Veninger, Pascale Montpetit
Production Company: ARTO-pelli Motion Pictures Inc.

In director Darrell Wasyk’s acclaimed feature debut, two junkies lock themselves in an underground apartment in a desperate attempt to wean themselves off heroin. As the story unfolds, the tough but inquisitive Snake (Martin Neufeld) and his girlfriend Michelle (Pascale Montpetit) fight, make up, eat, sweat, make love and reminisce. This is their last chance to kick their habits and they both know it. Through scenes of increasing intensity, Wasyk charts the disintegration of two people held together by their shared skill of camouflaging pain.

A clear-eyed drama and an unblinking gaze at addiction, H spares its audience nothing except easy moralizing and addict-chic contrivances. There is even an understated symbolic level to be found in the casting: Snake is a blonde Anglophone and Michelle a dark-haired Québécoise. Their desperate addiction is as much to each other as it is to heroin.

Montpetit’s stirring performance earned her a Genie Award for Best Lead Actress, while Wasyk received nominations for direction and screenplay. H screened to rave reviews at festivals around the world (Globe & Mail film critic Jay Scott called it “one of the most intense, powerful pictures ever”). It won the Toronto-City Award for Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto Festival of Festivals (now the Toronto International Film Festival®), the Best Canadian Screenplay prize at the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Bronze Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival.

By: Andrew McIntosh