Must-See Cinema! A tribute to the late greats Maury Chaykin and Paul Quarrington!
Somewhere on Vancouver Island, Desmond Howl (Maury Chaykin) has retreated from the grind of recording studios and concert tours. The run-down manor he inhabits (thanks to rich residual checks) mirrors his own unkempt appearance. But in the midst of decay, the childlike music genius has installed a state-of-the-art recording studio and devotes himself to creating a masterwork – a symphonic piece for whales. The ramshackle harmony threatens to come undone with the arrival of Claire (Cyndy Preston), a rather frank young woman on the run from the law. The surprise is that Howl allows her into his realm and, slowly but steadily, finds her presence a refreshing, almost compulsory aspect of his life.
The film painstakingly details not only the evolution of Howl’s composition (the film’s music was composed and performed by The Rheostatics) but also the growing attachment between two seemingly unsuited people.
The potential union is muddied by the myriad demons who haunt Desmond. They include his ex-wife, bent on getting him to sell the house, and the recording exec who owns every note he creates. Most disturbing is an unresolved problem between Howl and his brother (Paul Gross), his singing partner who died in an auto accident that may or may not have been a suicide. He pops up repeatedly in chilling, provocative hallucinations.
– Leonard Klady, Variety