Never Steady, Never Still gives us a peek into the life of a woman suffering from Parkinson's. Scottish actress Shirley Henderson gives a marvelous performance as Judy. The film from Kathleen Hepburn is a very personal tale based on her mother's struggle with Parkinson's.
The other plot involves Judy's son Jamie (Théodore Pellerin), who is trying to date women to avoid the stigma of being gay. Jamie's focus shifts to Kyra (Mary Galloway), a young woman who helps bring groceries to Judy.
Pellerin and Galloway are half of the TIFF Rising Stars for 2017. 2016 TIFF Rising Star Jared Abrahamson serves as a bully for Jamie while they work in the oil fields and also an object of desire for Jamie.
You might recognize Henderson from Wonderland, a British film also starring Canadian actress Molly Parker.
The film features veteran Canadian actor Nicholas Campbell as Judy's husband and Jamie's father. Lorne Cardinal, whom you might recognize from Corner Gas, plays the best friend of Campbell's character.
We joke that Canadian films aren't as intense as American films. Even by Canadian film standards, Never Steady, Never Still is a slow film.
The scenery is really lovely. Most of the shooting was done in British Columbia — mostly in Fort St. John and Fort St. James — as well as some filming in Alberta. The lovely scenery helps with the slow pace of the film.
There is a great disconnect between the two major segments of the film. Hepburn spoke to this point in the Q&A, though most filmgoers won't have access to the director when viewing the film. Since so much is unsaid in this film, you have to roll with what is up there on the screen.
This film has some common elements with Hello, Destroyer. Both films are shot in British Columbia and are expanded efforts of original short films. Both films are really slow in the last hour or so of the film. Abrahamson was the star in Hello, Destroyer and appears in Never Steady, Never Still.
The difference is that Never Steady, Never Still does give you some content in the latter half of the film. Pellerin and Galloway have a scene in particular that is really beautiful in its awkwardness.
The film feels very personal for Hepburn where details are either very subtle or missing. Hepburn said her mother dealt with Parkinson's for 24 years and Hepburn's writing really conveys that struggle.
Never Steady, Never Still is a film that will be adored by audiences who will enjoy the story and the pace of the film. In a microwave world, Never Steady, Never Still is an unplugged slow cooker of a film.
video credit: YouTube/busanfilmfestival
photo credit: Never Steady, Never Still; me