The best way to come into this mind-bending thriller is as cold as the winters of Northern Ontario where it was made. I hadn’t read a tweet or seen a trailer, and was lucky enough to be blown away by the turns this movie threw at me.
FUGUE is unassuming. We’re introduced to Helen and Malcolm, a wife dealing with her amnesiac husband who has no memory of his life or being married to her. Helen assists in guiding Malcolm along his way back to his memories.
At night, their house is broken into, and Helen desperately relies on Malcolm to remember the combination to their safe where their gun is hidden. By the time the movie ramps up to this point, you will suspect there is a bit more to this story than what Helen is telling both Malcolm and the audience.
This thriller feels like a love letter to Memento, steeped in The Bourne Identity, though to reduce it to an homage to those films is to not give it credit for its intense originality. Like Coherence and Saw before it, this film, which was made with a specific $20,000 budget constraint, uses a simple setting, but writes in a larger than reality premise playing on perspective, time, and the unseen for plot, instead of massive visuals.
I had some minor issues with the memory theories of this film, which I think could have been better researched or fleshed out, but this didn’t take me out of it, and I was willing to suspend some disbelief to enjoy it. The film otherwise doesn’t concern itself with over explaining details which is absolutely to its benefit, and shows expert restraint in its use of a McGuffin.
This is the first film from Rock Street North films, a Canadian production company formed by Christine Rochon and Tomas Street (who also wrote and directed). It was also the first feature for the star, Jack Foley, as Malcom, who did not disappoint in the fluid lead role that changes with the story from act to act. I’m gaga for Laura Tremblay’s performance as Helen, who absolutely blew me away on screen and gave performance that would hold up and deliver even more depth on a re-watch, like one might on a third viewing of Shutter Island.
This film really lived up to the Blood in the Snow festival’s bit, by being a core Canadian thriller, using a house that was generously leant to them by a local, and filmed in Sudbury, so borrowing some volunteer crew members from the set of Letterkenny.
FUGUE is compelling and exhilarating. I can’t wait to watch it from a knowing perspective and hope all of you get the change to see it soon.