Early Winter (Working Title Rest Home)
David, 45, works long nights as a night guard in a retirement home. He dotes on his children, plies his wife with latest model gadgets and cars, and keeps the wheels of his life turning with painkillers and antidepressants. But when he catches her with a lover, his life spirals out of control, bringing him to the brink of insanity, gaunt and alone, but free, maybe, for the first time in his adult life.
This film is an examination of the struggle of a modern couple with two kids to keep their relationship together and communicate in the face of the day-to-day grind of life and the alienation of modern communication technologies.
David is a forty-something security guard whose life is in a profound crisis. He is married with two kids, and his emotional world has to atrophied. He has accepted the role of the family's sole provider but his long work hours have distanced him from his wife Mandy and left his children hungry for contact with him. David gradually registers Mandy's absence and with it, the fact that he himself is emotionally adrift. Her increasing dependence on her i-Phone, focus on designer toys, and her indifference toward him, lead him to the conclusion that she is having an affair with a distant ex-boyfriend.
Mandy, his partner for over a decade and the mother of his two children, feels trapped in a relationship that she entered in good faith and in which she found she was suddenly abandoned. She spends increasing amounts of time on her i-Phone and in her new car. Albeit weak, materialistic attempts to struggle free from her bonds, she is at least struggling, and somehow her misguided efforts are an attempt to grasp at life again.
Their lives go into a tailspin when David comes home to find his arch rival in his house drinking coffee with his wife. David will literally be pushed to the very edge, revving his car on a cliff top with a bottle of alcohol in front of him on the dashboard. The eventual ending, a reconciliation of sorts, offers a tiny kernel of hope so bitter that one is reluctant to wish that either character take it.
In a way that is coherent with the contained narrative, the cinematography will be rigorously minimalist. There will be few camera movements and the emotional impact of both the script and the acting will not be manipulated or "emphasized" or "supported" by the camerawork.
The rhythm of the edited movie will be slow, above all in the first half, the audience time to absorb the nameless pain that is the emotional environment in which the characters move from day to day.
And so the laconic narrative will naturally evolve between the family home and the aged care unit where David works as a security guard. He is a good listener, and several people at his workplace confide in him, but his own life is impenetrable to those around him. Only when we see his enormous but secret compassion for a dying elderly woman do we feel the depth of his own desperation at his life situation.Director Michael Leslie Rowe
What attracted me to this project and director
There is no doubt that this project started with the great impression that Michael's previous film Leap Year made on me. The magnificent simplicity of Leap Year, reflected in both the script and the directing, the precision of it all, the richness and ambivalence of the character and their situation raised my admiration. This is why I wanted to meet him while at Guadalajara's FICG. And then it just clicked between us.
With the first pages of what was then called 'Historic Park' I very rapidly had the impression that Michael drew on his background in Australia (he spent the first 25 years of his life there) to shed light on the present day reality of the Occidental culture in general, and of North-American culture specifically. In that sense, it is not a Canadian as much as an international film I think we are aiming for, and I say this fully realizing the dangers for a co-productions to become soulless.
Maybe this is why I need to say that we seem to share a lot culturally and aesthetically: a lot of European references in cinema, a shared North-American experience, a deep knowledge of English culture, all this, while rooted in latin culture, thus bringing a weird bi-cultural identity of sorts. French culture for me, and Spanish culture for him. Strangely, this cultural mishmash that could be a danger seems to help us understand one another. And so, a Mexican-Australian director works with a French Canadian producer on a English film, and it all seems to make sense.
This is clearly destined to be an author project. And it is a drama, minimalist drama. Michael seems most confortable there, as director of really intimate cinema. I even sense there is something of an almost 'bergmanian' nature in the work of Michael, and especially so in Rest Home. He looks into our basic weaknesses, and our frailties, our lack of courage. But he is a Bergman of our age. There will be no attempts to cover up what has been revealed with talk. No attempts to save face after the lies are seen. Our real nature will not be hidden by words. But are actions any clearer?
In this way I simply want to help him make his next film. A film in his distinctive voice, in the continuity of what he achieved with Leap Year. And if I can succeed in doing this, while making a film that will reach all its potential audience, I will have the sense that we succeeded.Producer Serge Noël