THE LESSER BLESSED (2013)
Starring Joel Nathan Evans, Kiowa Gordon, Chloe Rose, Benjamin Bratt, Tamara Podemski, Adam Butcher, Spencer Van Wyck, Dylan Cook, Mike Bernier, David Boyce, Wilson Brandan, Krista Bridges, Lucius Hoyos and Jacob Neayem.
Screenplay by Anita Doron.
Directed by Anita Doron.
Distributed by Monterey Media. 86 minutes. Rated R.
The Lesser Blessed wears its indie cred like the battered jacket that protects the hero from the harsh Canadian cold. It is a film which was obviously conceived and filmed entirely for film festival notice.
Which can be cool, not every movie has to crave widespread multiplex blockbuster popularity. The Lesser Blessed as a picture is very much like the kid that it chronicles: a little awkward, a little overly serious, a little self-consciously oddball, a little tortured, a little shy, but also smart, quirky and surprisingly funny when you get in a little deeper.
And it really does just want to be loved by the sweet, cute girl next door.
Taking place in the underexplored Northern Territories of Canada, The Lesser Blessed shows a unique setting in which people are the same as they ever were.
First time actor Joel Nathan Evans plays Larry Sole, a shy and withdrawn boy who lives in this drab landscape. He is looked at as a bit of a loser and a bit of a freak by the local kids, who gossip about him and bully him in school. Larry has some deep dark secret from the past, which seems to have something to do with a fire and the death of his father, but no one knows exactly what happened.
Larry is saved from friendlessness by three people.
Juliet (Chloe Rose), the cute-as-a-button girlfriend of his former-friend-turned-main-tormentor Darcy (Adam Butcher), picks up on his soulfulness and befriends him, never quite seeming to pick up on the massive crush he has on her.
Johnny Beck (Kiowa Gordon), a new cool bad boy student has just started at the school and he takes Larry as a friend and also a project, to make this tightly wound kid kind of cool.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, Larry’s widowed mom (Tamara Podernski) has started dating again, finding a smart and understanding man in Jed (Benjamin Bratt), a man who literally makes a living finding lost people. Jed gives the young boy an older man to look up to, as well as an understanding ear to bend.
The Lesser Blessed watches as Larry tries to haltingly negotiate the waters of high school popularity, while also slowly exposing the true horror of Larry’s dark secret.
The Lesser Blessed was based on a novel by Richard Van Camp, who was born in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, Canada and knows the place well. The film captures the book’s spartan sense of the place – somewhere between Old West ghost town and dilapidated suburb of Detroit – as well as the unique lifestyles of the Indian-Caucasian mixed territory.
Occasionally The Lesser Blessed gets a tiny bit overwrought, but the fine work of the actors keeps things on track – in particular the near perfect unaffected performance of first-timer Evans.
The Lesser Blessed will probably never receive any kind of mass distribution. But it’s okay, there is a place in the world for smart, sensitive, slightly offbeat types like Larry and his movie.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2013 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 14, 2013.