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DVD Review - Show Me

April 22nd, 2006

Show Me is a psychological thriller from Canada that opened in limited release and was practically invisible during its theatrical run. Was this a justified result or was the movie unfairly overlooked? If it was the latter, is the DVD worth the price, or will a rental suffice.

Spoiler-Free Synopsis:
While preparing to leave for her cabin to celebrate her 10th Anniversary, Sarah Tabbott has an encounter with two squeegee kids. At first she just dismisses them, then she relents and offers them some money, but when the two jump in her car her weekend takes a dangerous turn.

The next section contains spoilers, click here to skip to the Special Features section.

Movie Review:
After that brief setup, and a couple of escape attempts, the film settles into a tense, psychological drama. However, because the big kidnapping takes place so early in the movie, there's very little time to establish characters. You know that Sarah and Sam are having relationship issues, Jackson and that Jenna are on the run. But you that's about all we know about them, and even then you don't know any of the details. This lack of knowledge could have a detrimental effect on how drawn into the movie someone will be, (I'll admit it did for me), but this did lead to several big reveals throughout the movie and that helped the dramatic tension built.

The film was very minimalist, which could have something to do with its budget. For the most part there is not much in the way of action as the story moves along on emotion. Even the few bursts of violent action that are in the movie are mostly near the very beginning and the very end. The movie takes place over a just a few days with just three main characters, (and really only six or seven speaking roles), and this is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the focus allows you to learn a large amount about these characters throughout the film. On the other hand, if you don't like the main characters, there's nothing in the film for you. It's not like you can enjoy the secondary characters, because there are no real secondary characters.

As for these three characters, they are both intriguing and infuriating at the same time. I was interesting in knowing more about them, although I would have preferred to know a little more a little sooner, but at the same time it seemed like no matter the situation, they constantly made bad decisions. After a while a lot of the sympathy one might feel for them starts to evaporate. But because of the performances by the three stars, especially Katharine Isabelle, this never fully happens.

Speaking of the three stars, I was trying to think of which of them most people in the States would recognize, and the answer is unfortunately, none of them. Kett Turton was in Dead Last, but that only lasted a few weeks. He's also been in a few movies, but never in a starring role. Katharine Isabelle was in Ginger Snaps, but I think it's fare to say that movie only earned a cult following, even north of the border. And while Michelle Nolden has a lot of credits to her name, most of them are guest shots on TV shows filmed in Canada and her best known work in the States is arguably the Canadian Curling movie, Men With Brooms. However, while the cast is not well known to most people, they are very skilled in their trade and that combination really helps the film, as they don't have any baggage that would distract the viewer.

Special Features:
Audio Commentary:
While it is called a Director's Commentary, there are in fact several participants on the track including the writer / director Cassandra Nicolaou, star
Michelle Nolden, executive producer Saul Pincus, and producer Howard Fraiberg.
The balance of information and entertainment leans quite a bit towards the former, but that is not to say the tone is dry and uninteresting. They talk a lot about the difficulties shooting on a really tight schedule and a low, low budget, the freaky weather they had to deal with, continuity errors, the few improves and more. As I mentioned above, the first time that I watched the movie I had trouble getting into it. I thought, "Why should I care about these characters?" The audio commentary revealed some things I missed the first time around and helped improve my enjoyment of the movie during subsequent viewing, which is a high compliment indeed.
There are very few dry spots and for the most part the participants keep the pace up and overall it is well worth listening to and adds replay value to the movie.

Behind the Scenes Featurette - 9:35
This is your typical making of featurette that includes interviews with writer / director Cassandra Nicolaou, and stars Michelle Nolden and Kett Turton, (strangely, Katharine Isabelle was not present). They talk about the inspiration, the filming, low budget, etc. It's definitely not a fluff piece and is in-depth considering its sub 10-minute running time, but in the end, it just left me wanting to know more. Also, there is some overlap between this and the Director's Commentary, but not so much that it is major problem.

Deleted Scenes -
Two more of Sarah's anniversary tapes are shown. First is the 8th anniversary and second is the 1st anniversary, no, I don't know why they are in that order either. They don't add much to the movie and their replay value is limited.

I admit, the first time I watched Show Me, I couldn't get into it. While there were some great scenes and universally excellent acting, things moved just too slowly for me to be fully committed to the movie. However, the second time around I enjoyed it more, appreciated the reveals more, was more interested in the characters. Perhaps that's because I was less concerned about where the film was going, and more willing to just see how it got there. Or perhaps it was because I had listened to the audio commentary and more aware of some of the subtleties. Or perhaps it was something else entirely.

Whatever the reason, I enjoyed Show Me enough to recommend seeing it, and the special features add to the value. But the overall package doesn't require purchasing. Call it a rental.

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