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The hardscrabble existence of two twentysomething addicts is portrayed with sensitivity and brutal honesty in the debut feature by Ashley McKenzie.
The hardscrabble existence of two homeless, twentysomething drug addicts is portrayed with sensitivity and brutal honesty in the 2016 feature debut from Share Her Journey Ambassador Ashley McKenzie. Doggedly and courageously refusing to sentimentalize the lives of its characters, Werewolf is shot almost entirely in extreme and oblique close-ups to capture the disorientation and frustration of her characters, a style reminiscent of Lodge Kerrigan’s Clean, Shaven and the work of Toronto minimalists like Kazik Radwanski and Igor Drljaca.
Nessa (Bhreagh MacNeil) is lost in a harsh world she lacks the tools to deal with. Blaise (Andrew Gillis) is another matter; a creature of impulses with little patience and a chip on his shoulder, he seems to feed off his own pain and hysteria, fighting with everyone (save Nessa) given the slightest provocation, as the two of them survive, unhoused, primarily through an underground economy.
Central to Werewolf’s success is the nuanced development of its characters: it’s a testament to McKenzie and the stellar performances of her two leads that Nessa and Blaise inspire empathy in us even as we find their actions perplexing and troubling. Powerful and moving, Werewolf confirmed the promise of McKenzie’s lauded short films when it premiered at TIFF.
Official Selection, 2016 Toronto International Film Festival
TIFF Canada’s Top Ten 2016
Best Canadian Film, Toronto Film Critics Association, 2017
Content advisories: drug use, mature themes