Friday, May 2, 2014

WHITEWASH Review - Javi's Take

Directed by: Emanuel Hoss - Desmarais
Written by: Emanuel Hoss - Desmarais and Marc Tulin
Starring: Thomas Haden Church and Marc Labreche
Synopsis: After killing a man with his snow plow, a man must escape to the Canadian wilderness to avoid capture.

One-man movies seem to be a nascent sub genre of movies where you take an actor and pit him or her in a stressful situation that tests their mettle. Recent examples are the recent ALL IS LOST and 127 HOURS. WHITEWASH, which follows Thomas Haden Church exclusively, is a darkly comedic and tragic entry into this sub genre. The story deals with Bruce (Church) as a down-on-his-luck man, who, at the beginning of the movie, runs over and kills a man with his snowplow the remainder of the movie him trying to evade the law and other people in order to survive.

Thomas Haden Church has always been a great supporting actor, stealing the show from Paul Giammatti in SIDEWAYS, and probably the only decent part about SPIDER-MAN 3. With WHITEWASH, he shows he can carry a movie almost single handily. True, his performance of a disgruntled, poor, or gruff man is right up his wheel house, but Bruce, as a character, is magnetic enough to want to watch him. With these movies, it's all about the story that is told about through the character's mannerism. Their attitudes in how they deal with issues are all mostly done through their actions and non verbals cues, and this is something that Church does really well. Given how he cleverly eludes a lot of his pursuers, one could surmise that he was a military or some type of outdoors man a long time ago before drinking became his priority.

The movie switches back and forth between the past and the present to a time when Bruce was just a poor snowplower and not a murderer, which helps fill in a lot of the reasoning why the initial accident happened and the type of person he was before. You see he's still gruff, but he has some compassion because of how he saves a man committing suicide. What's interesting is that the flashbacks are told in a rather a non-linear manner with some scenes taking place further along in the past than later scenes, and it keeps the story interesting by re-contextualizing previous scenes and events constantly. Minor script issue aside, this movie's camera seems to be in awe of Canada's natural beauty and while a lot of the movie takes place during the winter, it does make one want to visit the Great White North. It could be argued that Canada's wilderness is another character as Bruce is constantly fighting against or trying to use it for his advantage.

While the performances and the editing really keep the movie interesting, there is very little in terms of plot or even anything resembling a climax in the "present" of the movie. There's definitely a lot of dramatic tension in finding out what happened that brought Bruce to this point. There is a point where you can tell that Bruce has been out in the wild for too long and starts doing some irrational things, and maybe it's a completely personal preference, but if there had been more of that, it would've given the movie a bit of variety.

WHITEWASH is a satisfying thriller that shows how great of an actor Thomas Haden Church is. The flashback scenes add a sense of mystery to what would other wise be a tale of a man going insane out in the wilderness. The acting on display here is superb, and the story, while intimate, is a powerful one by the time the movie ends.

Whitewash is currently available from Oscilloscope Laboratories on all premium digital platforms, including iTunes (at, Amazon, and XBOX Live.

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