Chilly Canadian Noir

Robert Moyes reviews Victoria Film Festival screening of Cardinals

By Robert Moyes

As long as you’re prepared to be left in the dark for awhile, Cardinals is an interesting, low-key thriller anchored with a great performance by celebrated Canadian actor Sheila McCarthy (I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, Orphan Black). McCarthy stars as Valerie Walker, who has just gotten out of prison after serving a long sentence for vehicular manslaughter while drunk – late at night she’d killed a neighbour who lived just across the street. We meet her two daughters, Zoe and Eleanor, when they pick Valerie up at prison and drive her back to her home in the suburbs.

Valerie looks washed out from her years of incarceration, but seems stoically prepared to begin reclaiming her life. The next morning there’s a knock at the door and Valerie answers it to discover Mark, the son of the man she killed. She invites him to sit at the breakfast table with her two daughters, and the resulting conversation is stilted and ambiguous. “Thank you for forgiving me,” blurts Valerie at one point, even though it’s obvious the superficially polite Mark is seething with quiet anger and has offered no such absolution. As it turns out, Mark isn’t seeking closure so much as he is conducting his own investigation into what happened.

As the nature of the accident is called into question, tension slowly mounts and a secret between Valerie and the eldest daughter are hinted at. Later, there’s a very awkward meeting between Valerie and a friend and workmate from the plant where they both worked. Eventually, tension leads to menace, and the story climaxes with a dramatic but not entirely satisfying confrontation – albeit one made remarkable thanks to the riveting presence of McCarthy.

Cardinals is the feature-length debut of directors Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley, who have previously worked on short films. They have gotten decent performances out of everyone, and have cultivated intriguing psychological undercurrents. The film benefits from some deadpan humour courtesy of Valerie’s eccentric parole officer. And despite an obvious low budget, they used the wintry Ontario setting to effectively establish a subtly noirish mood. That said, the story is on the slight side, and the timing and manner in which the film’s secrets emerge seems awkward.

Rating: ***

Showing Sun., 9 pm, Feb. 11 at SilverCity

Just Posted

Oak Bay Tea Party: Parade goes balloon free for environmental protection

Hand sorting shifts 3,000 pounds of ‘trash’ to recycling

Oak Bay’s new music fest returns next weekend

All festival concerts take place on June 2 and 3 at St. Mary’s Anglican Church

Cyclists win Bike to Work Week’s Commuter Challenge kickoff

16 teams of cars vs. bikes raced to see who could reach downtown destination fastest

Victoria Cool Aid Society invites you to their Homecoming

Event celebrates 50 years of social services across Greater Victoria with fundraiser to keep programs running

Fort Street bike lanes making their debut with roll-out event Sunday

Completion marks the second east-west connector dedicated to downtown cyclists

Film Review: On Chesil Beach

Saoirse Ronan continues to shine in adaptation Ian McEwan novel about young newlyweds on their wedding day

Juno winners MonkeyJunk play Saanich’s V Lounge June 2

Two-time Juno-winning Monkey Junk bring their ‘swamp’ R&B sound to Saanich’s V… Continue reading

Burlesque performers don’t let theatre fire stop their show

Cheesecake Burlesque Revue raising money for PEERS with Saturday night performance of Hot Pink

Free mixed media camp offered to youth

Camp hosted on Denman Island

Reading between the lines: the many roles of the Victoria Literacy Connection

Saturday fundraiser to help volunteer-run organization teach people to read, write and more

Film Review: On Chesil Beach

Saoirse Ronan continues to shine in adaptation Ian McEwan novel about young newlyweds on their wedding day

Mulroney children to act as bridesmaids-page boys at royal wedding

Ben and Jessica Mulroney’s children will be in Saturday’s royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Most Read