Saturday, June 7, 2014

Streaming choice: Zach Clark's WHITE REINDEER -- an oddball, deadpan original

Though TrustMovies has seen the actress Anna Margaret Hollyman in a number of movies (generally not in the leading role: Somebody Up There Likes Me and Gayby are two of the most recent), nothing she has given us so far impresses me as much her work in WHITE REINDEER. In this strange and rather deadpan film by writer/director Zach Clark (shown below), Ms Hollyman not only has the leading role but it would be difficult to imagine anyone else quite as distinctive and right for this quirky, unclassifiable little bit of holiday non-cheer.

The movie would seem to have the outline of a melodrama (after all, it includes, robbery, murder, infidelity, pole dancing and more), yet in the playing/telling, it is resolutely unmelodra-matic. You will find yourself laughing off and on, yet White Reindeer is anything but comedy. It is not a drama, either, exactly, though there are also moments of odd tenderness and feeling that make themselves felt without the filmmaker, actress or the rest of the cast "pushing." Among its themes is one that probably stands out most: Even if you think you know who you are and what your life's about (a sometimes tricky proposition to begin with), all this can change in a moment. Oh, yes, and it's a Christmas movie, too, though I think we'd have to place it firmly in the category of "alternative" holiday fare.

Ms Hollyman, above, plays a happily married realtor named Suzanne, whose hubby is a successful businessman about to move the couple to Hawaii. Once fate (or whatever) intervenes, Suzanne finds herself involved with a group of strippers,

one of whom is  named Fantasia (a quite wonderful first performance from Laura Lemar-Goldsborough, above), who has a young child and lives with her mom.

There's a detective (Chris Doubek); a newly married couple played by Lydia Hyslop (above, center) and Joe Swanberg (yes, that Joe Swanberg, above, left, doing a nice acting turn here) who has bought a house via Suzanne; a couple of co-worker real estate ladies; Fantasia's group of strippers (shown below), and some other odd and various characters. But it is Ms Hollyman who holds it all together, as she tries to figure out, well, so many things. And we're right there along with her.

White Reindeer can be streamed now via Netflix, and elsewhere, but apparently it is not yet available on DVD.

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