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CANADA FIRST!: Eve and the Firehorse

Is the subject matter enough to make a film good? That was the question I asked myself after tonight's screening of Eve and the Firehorse. Canadian Film Centre grad, Julia Kwan, takes her whimical short, Three Sisters on Moon Lake, and extends it to a disjointed feature lacking story focus. It's a shame too because there are some rather brilliant moments in where the screen lights up with whimsy and charm, you can't help but laugh and be suckered by its campiness.

Eve, is a naive 5 year old born in the year of the FireHorse. According to Chinese belief, those born in the year of the FireHorse (every 60 years) have an unbridled strong will and are difficult to control. After a string of family tragedies, the family begins to break under its desperation. Enter Jehovah Witnesses who introduce the love of Jesus Christ and God into the Buddhist household.

Older sister Karena, decides to plunge herself head first into all that is Catholic and takes everything literally. Eve on the other hand teeters on accompanying her sister to Sunday school and her mother to the Temple. Confusing doctrine on both sides, mainly coming from Catholicism, lands the sisters in somewhat hot water.

I deeply related to the experiences the film touched upon and identified with what Eve was experiencing growing up in dual religions and dual cultures, (I too am born in the year of the Horse, but I'm an Earth Horse ... not as cool sounding but whatever ... ). Yet I can not still bring myself to say that it was a good film, because it was just ok.

There were good performances especially from sisters Eve (Phoebe Kut) and Karena (Hollie Lo). Clever uses of CGI to further Eve's creative imagination were an unexpected welcome, but even those moments weren't enough to save the story. The film drags quite a bit, when it should pop seeing as how it's seen through the eyes of a child. Eve's fantastical imagination makes up for some rather hilarious interactions when the deities (Jesus, Buddha and The Goddess of Mercy) come to life and begin to do household chores. Those scenes alone, made the rest of the film bareable.

As a fellow storyteller, I'm not a fan of the first person narrative, especially when there are multiple story focuses and priorities abound. While I get the "suffer in silence/ alone" part of the culture, it isn't enough of a pay-off at the end when the discovery is revealed. Did anyone learn anything?

Still, it definitely is the best movie I've seen come out from the West in awhile, (the other two being PINK LUDOOS and DOUBLE COMBO PLATTER), but even that doesn't say much in the least. It seems if the film wasn't a Canadian debut feature, it would've premiered in the VISIONS or DISCOVERY programme of the festival. And those programmes alone are hit and miss.


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