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.
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.
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...
Regardless of the somber tone of this movie, it's extremely well made. All of the actors give solid performances and are quite good (with the possible exception of Barry the cop, who is a little underwhelming with most of his line deliveries). The camerawork is beautiful as well, with some great shots. It's a solid film with some great dramatic storytelling, but, again, it is really depressing overall.
This vision of life as narrow and bounded is irritating. The filmmaker proposes suicide and mediocrity as the two reliefs of mankind. That's irritating too. Horizons and landscapes are not culture, and do not offer any way out. +1 star for the song and the next-town-over setting.
The determination of this first-time director to keep it real is admirable as the film works through 3 separate stories that are brought together in the final chapter. We witness teenage love and pregnancy, solo parenting, alcoholism, divorce and suicide in small town Canada with neatly intersecting stories. It's all very well constructed to provide a believable expose of average life in an average town. Sad.
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.
The visuals in this film are astounding as are the ways in which it makes the things the characters are going through resonate within you. Following four different people gave it a New's Year Eve and Valentine's Day twist but it made the genre all its own. It highlight struggles that many viewers can relate to which makes it all the more inviting. Their stories were unique yet they still intertwined effortlessly.
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.