Dividing four related narratives of hope and struggle into four self-contained vignettes, first-time feature director Kyle Thomas creates a Raymond Carver-esque portrait of life on the Alberta Badlands.
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The most interesting aspect of this film is the creative decision to make the film a multi-narrative. Depicting each character in their own plot only to intertwine them illustrates the balance of your own personal life with the lives of others around you.
This film showed four individual but intertwined stories. Set in Alberta, Canada, these stories each give honest compelling narratives about how people deal with issues like teen pregnancy, alcoholism, divorce and suicide. It reminds you that everyone, truly everyone has their own weird pleasures and secret behind-the-scenes crap. In this movie, you will feel the characters crises as their individual valley.
The grand narrative of small town sadness & secrets built upon the intersection of seemingly disparate characters/situations is perhaps the most abused plot device ever. Plus, these four unimaginative stories can't disguise the fact that The Valley Below is derivative and a bit moralistic. Feels like a watered down version of Shortcuts, in a rural rather than urban setting. Nonetheless, this is a remarkable debut.
Impressive film-making. Heart-breakingly sad. Perfectly encapsulates all the pain, anxiety, claustrophobia, and depression of small town life. Great performances. Beautiful scenery. Nice image of the model train set going around the same track, over and over again, passing the same faceless houses and never stopping to interact with individual human beings.
There is a permanent tension in the film, whether between young lovers, separated couple, mom and dad facing a divorce, or model companions. Behind the faces, we feel like something disastrous may happen at any moment. The physical violence, however, is always treated off-screen, in ellipses, reserving a discret and decent depiction of the complexe, unfathomable human souls.
While The Valley Below is ostensibly about a series of loosely related people, it reads first and foremost as a film about a place. The picture is almost self-consciously Canadian, and the landscape around Drumheller has as prominent a role as any of the characters. One might get the sense that Alberta's badlands are miasmic - drawing inhabitants into hopelessness in the face of beauty.
Worth it, but heavy.
very well made film, with a nice pacing and all...
the patience with which each narrative is held and followed is nice. Also, the way one enters one life, then leaves, then another, reentering earlier ones again...
but the ending and the need to reach an ending like that is quite reductive...