Raindance Film Festival: Wild Canaries

Directed by Lawrence Michael Levine

Starring Lawrence Michael Levine, Sophia Takal, Alia Shawkat, Annie Parisse, Kevin Corrigan and Jason Ritter

by Joanna Orland

Noah and Barri are a Brooklynite couple suspicious of their elderly neighbour’s death in this screwball comedy which also features an amazing ensemble cast of supporting characters. Rather than solve the troubles of their relationship, Barri forces Noah to investigate her suspicions that foul play is involved in the death of their neighbour, who supposedly died of natural causes when she was well into her 80’s.

There are suspects aplenty, the first being the prodigal son Anthony who seems rather unfazed by his mother’s death and is quick to sell off her valuable possessions to aid his financial troubles. Then there is the landlord Damien whose property value would immediately increase if the only rent-control tenant were to no longer live in the building. With comedy talents such as Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development), Kevin Corrigan (Pineapple Express) and Jason Ritter (Parenthood) to nicely fill out the cast, this film can’t help but be an enjoyable and fun watch.

While the screwball comedy fun is rife, the weak link in this film is the plot. There are so many holes in the way it plays out, the film inevitably finishes with two of the characters discussing what has just transpired in order to fill in a rather confused audience. In addition to the confusing plot, there is really no reason behind Barri’s persistence in finding the death of her neighbour suspicious, outside of the mere avoidance of confronting her own relationship issues. While this is a good enough reason to ignite suspicion and find a distraction, her level of suspicion and determination in the pursuit of finding clues is disproportionate to any reason she should have to suspect foul play.

Plot holes and confusion aside, Wild Canaries is a light and fun screwball comedy with an excellent support cast. It will certainly keep you on your toes as there is no way to predict how it will unfold – even the characters seem confused by the outcome.

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