"A deadly car accident brings together a group of previously unrelated
people, each of whom is forced to deal with the emotional fallout."
Man, being Canadian is sweet. It's easy to create a Canadian masterpiece.
Step 1: Find an movie from the States that is widely considered to be
excellent. The winner of a Best Picture Oscar is ideal. Let's say, for
Step 2: Get that script into your word processing software. Do a
find/replace on "Los Angeles," substituting "Vancouver." Replace "New York"
with "Toronto," and "Boston" with "Montreal." Read it through once more. You
may have to clean up a little bit by replacing "Harvard" with "McGill" and so
Step 3: To comply with the Canadian constitution, hire either Molly Parker
or Callum Keith Rennie, preferably both.
Step 4: Pick up your awards. Wear warm clothing to the ceremony.
Actually, I'm just being silly. Although the premise sounds similar, Normal isn't
really anything like Crash. For one thing, there's no racial component,
because ... well, apparently because Canada, at least as pictured here, seems to be populated entirely by pale white people who have to focus their
irrational hatred on ethnicity rather than race.
But that's not what the film is about. There are, to the best of my
knowledge, no French-Canadians to be seen, although the manager of the pizza
shop does have a 1970s porno moustache, so he might be a candidate, even
though his last name is never revealed and his first name is not Pierre.
A high school basketball star was
killed in a car crash some time ago, and every single person in Canada blames
himself or herself for the boy's death. The driver of the other car thinks he
is to blame, even though the courts ruled otherwise. The boy's
best friend, who was driving their car, thinks he is to blame. His mother thinks
it is because she didn't raise him right. The local Dominos guy thinks the
accident could have been avoided if he had just gotten them that pizza three
minutes earlier and a dollar cheaper. The kid's fourth grade teacher thinks he
should have never failed him in geography. The guy whose car was stolen thinks
it was his fault for owning such a tempting car. Famed goalie Dominik Hasek
thinks he could have saved the kid, just as he saved so many sure goals over
the years. OK, maybe
I fabricated a few of those, but the point is that nobody thinks that maybe the
kid might have created his own problem by joyriding around town in a stolen
If you're scoring at home, make up a list of every possible trite and
hackneyed comment that one could possibly make about a loved one taken too
soon. I think you will find that the characters in the film use every single
one on your list, and several more you forgot. Sometimes the characters argue over which
one has spouted the proper cliché! To be fair, the film does have a few good
moments, but simply doesn't work overall, and there is one key reason. The
part of the dead boy's mother, a role at the film's emotional core, is so
unsympathetic that I kept thinking "God, why couldn't the accident have killed
her instead?" After a string of irrational and contradictory tantrums, she
finally ends the film by leaving her husband because - get this - he failed to
demonstrate his grief in exactly the same way that she demonstrated hers. He
dealt with the tragedy by going back to work and trying to resume his routine
(as many people would have done), instead of joining her in a poor
impersonation of Hamlet, complete with madness and grief-laden soliloquies. I
guess that will teach him to be normal.
The mom finally gets some satisfaction at the end of the film when she
fails to forgive the miserable, guilt-ravaged schmuck who was driving the
other car, even though that guy is the only character in the film who seems to
be a complex and decent human being, and is gently taking care of his autistic
brother. The mom's callous treatment of the poor, sobbing dope finally beings a
smile to her face, and the film ends!
Now that's rewarding drama, hoser-style!