Meanwhile, on the big screen

Peter
Peter Jackson
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Last week, I finally ventured out to see Adriana Maggs' feature film-making debut, "Grown Up Movie Star." Now, I want to see it again. It is one of the most engaging films I've seen in a long time.

Maggs, a Corner Brook native, has been dabbling in the TV and film industry for several years.

In 2005, she co-created and starred in a pilot TV show called "Rabbittown" with her friend Sherry White. She was also a contributing writer and actor in the short-lived CBC comedy "Hatching, Matching and Dispatching." She now lives in Toronto, where she focuses primarily on script writing.

Last week, I finally ventured out to see Adriana Maggs' feature film-making debut, "Grown Up Movie Star." Now, I want to see it again. It is one of the most engaging films I've seen in a long time.

Maggs, a Corner Brook native, has been dabbling in the TV and film industry for several years.

In 2005, she co-created and starred in a pilot TV show called "Rabbittown" with her friend Sherry White. She was also a contributing writer and actor in the short-lived CBC comedy "Hatching, Matching and Dispatching." She now lives in Toronto, where she focuses primarily on script writing.

Maggs was put out when "Movie Star" was rejected by the Toronto Film Festival last year, but she didn't let it discourage her. Instead, she shopped it south of the border to the smaller (but arguably more iconic) Sundance Film Festival. There, the film's lead actor, Regina-born Tatiana Maslany, snagged the special jury prize for best breakout performance.

Maslany plays the central character. Ruby, a pretty 14-year-old, and her younger sister live with their single dad, an ex-NHL player who's too busy struggling with his own demons to properly look after the girls.

There are familiar Newfound-land faces in the film, including Sherry White, Mary Walsh and Andy Jones. Comedian Jonny Harris switches gears to give a brilliant portrayal of wheelchair-bound "Uncle Stu."

The show is primarily about sex. It's about Ruby's sexual coming of age as she obsesses about becoming a Hollywood celebrity. And it's about the complications that go with sex: a family friend's lust for the playful teen, and the father's coming to terms with his homosexuality.

It is rife with dark themes - a broken marriage, drugs, child abuse - yet Maggs manages to salvage a sense of hope. The characters are raw and real. Their interactions seem natural, unencumbered by excessive theatrics or morality.

Film critic Whitney Borup, who reviewed Maggs' film along with other Sundance offerings, put it this way: "Each conflicted character is portrayed with love and understanding, and even as they falter, viewers will latch on to everyone in the film."

But it's clearly Maslany who steals the show, with her big, penetrating eyes and her penchant for idle mischief.

"(Maslany) captures the false confidence of her age perfectly," Borup says. "Her interactions with her family are perfectly scripted.

"It's rare in the independent film world to find a young character depicted with realism. ... She goes about her life in ways that everyone can relate to. You might have been like Ruby in junior high school, or else you'll certainly remember girls that were."

The film deserves far more hype than it's received, but that's the vicious circle of being an unknown. You have to "be discovered," but you have to fight for it.

And there's likely an element of stigma attached. Perhaps there was some bias on the part the Toronto festival organizers. Perhaps they were inclined to overlook yet another quirky concept piece from the East Coast. And perhaps films like "Movie Star" and successes like CBC's "Republic of Doyle" are helping to finally erase that stigma.

I have little doubt Maggs, if she keeps her eyes on the prize, will become a household name in cinema one day, and not just among the fans back home or even the Hogtown glitterati.

Borup agrees.

"It's hard to believe that this is Adriana Maggs' first film. I hope she has a long, long career ahead of her."

Peter Jackson is The Telegram's commentary editor. He can be contacted by e-mail at pjackson@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: CBC, Movie Star, NHL

Geographic location: Toronto, Corner Brook, Regina Hollywood East Coast Hogtown

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  • SC
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    I would like to see this movie at Empire Cinemas in St. John's or Mount Pearl. If you would also, leave a comment here & call Empire Cinema's Office 722-5775. I called & they said that it only played a week or so & it isn't scheduled for Mt Pearl either - but that a lot of people have been calling and asking for it to be brought back.

  • SC
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    I would like to see this movie at Empire Cinemas in St. John's or Mount Pearl. If you would also, leave a comment here & call Empire Cinema's Office 722-5775. I called & they said that it only played a week or so & it isn't scheduled for Mt Pearl either - but that a lot of people have been calling and asking for it to be brought back.