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Volume 91, Issue 40

Friday, November 7, 1997

musical chairs


Western supports Hanging Garden

©Gazette File Photo
"WELL, ASH BABY, I'M GONNA NEED SOMETHING THAT SWINGS." Ashley MacIsaac willfully takes some fiddle lessons from the Hanging Garden's writer/director/producer Thom Fitzgerald.

By Carey Weinberg

Gazette Staff

With images of death and life in the title, one expects something powerful. The Hanging Garden, which is written, directed and co-produced by Thom Fitzgerald, delivers an exploration of love, life, death, ghosts and a dysfunctional family.

Better keep your eyes on this movie as it's nominated for 11 Genie Awards and won the People's Choice Award in this year's Toronto, Vancouver and Atlantic International Film Festivals. Also keep your eyes on this movie, because it's compelling, interesting and poignantly real, but with a surreal bent.

This movie traces various segments of a gay man's life and the film is both strangely surreal and frighteningly real simultaneously. Dark humour prevails throughout the run of this beautiful, macabre look into the life of Sweet William (Chris Leavins and the younger Sweet William by Troy Veinotte).

The beauty of the film runs the gamut of aesthetic excellence. Both visually and plot-wise, this film tugs and cuts at the heart-strings. In the true Canadian vein, the movie takes its time in getting rolling. Since a plethora of visual elements is used, extensive dialogue would distract from the strong ocular effect. Fitzgerald uses colour and clever cinematography to augment the surface plot.

The Hanging Garden is divided into three segments. Part one begins with Sweet William's sister Rosemary's (Kerry Fox) wedding. Romance keeps its distance from this opener as the audience gets its first introduction to the dysfunctional family. And consider yourself warned – the language is as colourful as the flower imagery which is the backdrop to the film.

Sweet William returns home to Nova Scotia for the wedding after disappearing for 10 years. Most people in attendance are exceptionally drunk, most notably Father Whiskey Mac (Peter MacNeil). Also in attendance performing the music is none other than Ashley MacIsaac. Sweet William attempts to replant his roots after his hiatus, yet he must confront his ghosts to accomplish that.

The slow movement of the film enables Fitzgerald to create some visual poetry. Fitzgerald's attention to detail creates a sensually palpable movie that brings the viewer closer to the characters.

If your preference is standard Hollywood plot-driven action, don't bother coming to see this flick. This is an artistic, cinematic treat that will be lost on the pure 'entertainment' style movie goer.

Part two, entitled "Lad's Love," has a young obese Sweet William engage in his first sexual encounter. The audience is also privy to the abusive relationship he has with his father. Within this dysfunctional family is moments of functional love between William and his sister Rosemary (Sarah Polley). William's first encounter is with his friend Fletcher (Joel S. Keller).

The gay representation is handled well in that it is not offensive to heterosexuals who are uncomfortable with seeing homosexual love, yet it does not shy away from presenting the naked beauty of the young love between a 350-pound Sweet William and Fletcher.

The Hanging Garden, like a slow moving roller coaster which traverses through deep sadness and madness, includes sardonic humour and eventually an uplifting emotive exploration.

Members of the cast Seana McKenna and Troy Veinotte, Thom Fitzgerald and producer Louise Garfield are here tonight for the sneak preview at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are available at Attic Books, Complex 722,, Dr. Disc, The Green Tomato, Partners, Sinnz, Womanline Books, Westside Variety and UWO Info-source, or at the McKellar Room before the show. Other fund-raising events are happening in conjunction with this event to benefit the Holy Fellowship Metropolitan Community Church.

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazed@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997