ByTowne ByTowne Cinema
325 Rideau St. Ottawa K1N 5Y4
Info Line: (613) 789-FILM
Director will be here for a post-film Q&A on Saturday, August 18!
‘Genital herpes gets more attention,’ says one of the characters in Foreverland, the new film from Max McGuire that explores the reality of living with cystic fibrosis – one of many disorders that lacks broad-based support and, as such, is considered ‘an orphan disease.’
The lack of recognition for CF sufferers is just one of many tragedies unfolding in this frame, because our central character, Will (Max Thieriot), is struggling to take every breath.
He has the cruel genetic disorder that makes your lungs stop working at a tragically young age, and he can feel death wrapping around his rib cage.
Yet, instead of living in denial, he opts for a macabre embrace and starts shopping for coffins. Those around him are patient, loving and understanding with his sarcastic smirk at death, but when a good friend passes on, Will becomes despondent. He may talk a lot about death, but deep down, Will is desperate to live and seeks an elusive miracle.
Will’s dead buddy offers the hope he needs. In his last written testament, he orders his ashes be scattered down south in Mexico, where a faith healer is said to perform spiritual and physical fixes. With a bag full of pills and puffers, as well as the dearly departed’s sister Hannah (Laurence Leboeuf), Will sets out for Mexico in his dad’s old convertible.
The two have an itchy chemistry, but it makes for some crackling screen time. It also gives McGuire a chance to get some things off his chest in the dialogue between them, because both Will and Hannah are fluent in the workings of cystic fibrosis.
We hear all about the meds, the hospital corridors, and doctor’s appointments that go along with managing a chronic illness. And for those suffering through any kind of tragic medical condition, there is comfort in the feeling of community that Foreverland creates.
Without unveiling the many pit stops along the way, we can rest assured there is a requisite degree of transformation that takes place for both Will and Hannah as they continue on their Mexican quest. We even get a cameo from Juliette Lewis, who goes against type and plays an uptight church lady of an aunt in one of the comedy-driven sequences. While much of what we see is relatively predictable, the delivery from Thieriot and co-star Leboeuf is sincere enough to transcend the material.
The cinematography is stellar. McGuire makes the most of it by relying on a water motif to articulate his symbolic point: Will’s lungs cannot clear mucus, which means he will ‘drown’ in his own fluid. Over the course of the film, Will is constantly around water – and sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s bad. But he’s always somewhere in between both worlds, and that’s the headspace this movie tries to access.
McGuire gets there, because like his central character, he also has CF. This is very much his area of expertise, and as a result, the movie is easily the most authoritative narrative film about the genetic disorder.
– Katherine Monk, Postmedia
Director Max McGuire will be at the cinema for a post-film Q&A on Saturday, August 18!
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