TIFF 2018 Review: “Kingsway” (2018) ★★★


Depression or suicide is not an easy subject to tackle in a movie especially when there are many people who are suffering from the same problem. And when they get a chance to see a movie covering the topic, what should it tell? Every art, every painting or even films should give hope that everything will be OK and that there’s nothing to worry about. As for Bruce Sweeney’s film, “Kingsway”, apart from many other little details you will find important to share, one is that it does not tell you that you have nothing to worry about. However, it delivers one clear message we must all note down – every success or defeat belongs to the largest group, or how we like it to call – team effort or family. And just because of that one reason, I think it’s wise if you give it a look.

I like the fact that the film takes a lighter approach to the depressing and troubling subject matter of suicide. It follows Matt (Jeff Gladstone) who suffers from depression and anxiety. He battles his own demons along with his wife, Lori (singer-songwriter Colleen Rennison), who can’t wait to become his ex. As you learn more about her, you kind of begin to justify her actions, as I guess with her artistic career as a singer, she does not want her mind to be occupied with Matt and his constant change of mood. She knows that every time when she distances the man from her, she pushes him towards the edge of the cliff just by her selfish actions.

But Lori is not the only one who does not give enough space to Matt, her sister Jess (Camille Sullivan) and mother, Marion (Gabrielle Rose) are extremely over supportive or overprotective of him. Obviously, it is also understandable as the two women try their best to help Matt to give up his idea to die and resume his therapy. But there’s another problem; as the story unfolds, we learn that Jess or even Marion are also in need of professional support, as they, same as Matt, are victims of circumstances being caused by Matt’s depression which is heavily impacting Jess and Marion’s everyday decisions.

All these are told through comic situations, so the viewer does not have to overthink much or feel bad for Matt, Jess or even Marion. In the end, there’s no villain in the film, but simple people who cope with their daily life in the best way possible. They all try to address Matt’s issue, even Matt himself. But as another of his suicide attempts fails, he realizes that all his problems comes due to a broken heart, love, frustration and the pain he feels inside and the lack of knowledge under those upsetting circumstances that he automatically passes his pain to his entire family, and even to Lori, who deals with the same in her own way.

“Kingsway”, written and directed by Bruce Sweeney, is a solid dramedy from Canada that does not go beyond its aim. Every little detail is placed cleverly so that every aspect of the story unfolds in a logical way. In fact, due to successful character development, the viewer does not need to overthink about something that should not be in the film. And as for the performances, Camille Sullivan and Gabrielle Rose were the best part of the film. Maybe it’s because they have gotten used to sharing the same screen all the time (they starred in BIRDWATCHER), but whatever the reason, it has helped them to deliver their part with ease and humor.

That said, “Kingsway” is an unconventional film about big issues and takes little steps at a time to draw an interesting image that turns into such a wonderfully narrated piece, I am sure, whether you’re up for comedies or drama, suicide, depression, anxiety or just family matters, you will never find yourself bored throughout. And that’s a big win for small movies like this because it’s never too big to fight for a special place in every viewer’s heart.

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