Broke. (Canada, 2009)

broke_concepts3Directed by: Rosie Dransfeld. Finally, I get around to watching a local film by a local filmmaker, all set on that quaint little intersection at 111 ave and 95 street. As much as I love seeing my humble little home town mythologized on the screen (even in a little doc like this), I’m not sure if I actually have a very strong opinion on this movie one way or the other. It was definitely a well-made, technically solid film. I didn’t notice any glaring omissions or crass creative choices. I was almost expecting there to be some fatal flaw, some horribly disruptive groan moment that sometimes comes with low-budget filmmaking, even just on the creative level, not the tech level. But this seemed pretty solid all the way through. The central dynamic between the old Jewish guy and the young Native dude, the former’s hardbitten crabbiness providing an entertaining and counterpoint to the latter’s frequent declarations of victimhood, and sparking a continual stream of miniature conflicts and “plot points.” As with all of these films, the fly-on-the-wall, hands-off approach leaves the whole thing very open to interpretation, resisting any impulse to really draw anything towards any specific observations, and this is definitely a good thing. But on the other hand, this film is obviously meant to be a sort of exposé on a particular strata of society that rarely gets any screen time, meant to encourage the viewer to meditate on poverty in the modern city in a specific concept. And to the extent that this is a social commentary doc, an example to some degree of “activist filmmaking”, I’m not sure that this film actually has any kind of opinion on what’s it’s presenting (although I can’t be sure of which chicken or egg came first as far as my own indifference to this film goes). We’re just shown these characters, the daily life of this pawn shop at the heart of the inner city, and I guess I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel about them. Maybe that’s a strength—I feel however I’m bound to feel. In which case, this film might not be much more than a 2-hour voyeuristic peep show into the lives of these real people who I otherwise would be practically and socially restricted from just watching and forming an opinion about. I’m not quite sure.

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One response to “Broke. (Canada, 2009)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2013 | Offhand Reviews·

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