SXSW Review: ‘Wild Canaries’


Writer/director Lawrence Michael Levine’s film, Wild Canaries, is a mess. It’s tonally everywhere and the ridiculous ending made me turn to my friend and ask, “What the hell did we just watch?”

Noah (Levine) and Barri (Sophia Takal, who could be Anna Kendrick’s twin sister) are an engaged couple who’s got issues, but hey, who doesn’t? When their kind, elderly neighbor dies, Barri begins to suspect something fishy and starts to do her own investigation. Noah suspects nothing but as she continues her snooping, she soon drags him and her friend Jean (Alia Shawkat) into the fray. Eventually, everyone, including the neighbors son (Kevin Corrigan) and the buildings super (Jason Ritter), become suspects.

Barri is a dreamer and you can see why her imagination gets away from her. So, when she goes full on Nancy Drew, complete with fedora, you don’t question anything. What you do question is her and Noah’s intelligence. The deeper and deeper they get, why don’t they call the cops? This is one of the many (many!) things that never get explained. It’s incredibly frustrating when characters do stupid things and these decisions the cake.

For example: there are scenes where they’re hiding almost in plain sight from the killer. The killer leaves – Yay! They’ve managed to not get caught! – and what do they do next? Do they get the heck out of there? No! They stand there in the killers apartment and start to argue. I wanted to yell at the screen. It’s not funny or cute. It’s just plain idiotic.

Another thing in the film is that Noah is in a neck brace for half of the film. How he gets in the brace is unfunny and the fact that he’s in it for the rest of the film is a total head-scratcher. Does Levine just think he looked funny in it? It adds nothing to the film, character or plot.

As the movie progresses, it just gets more and more frustrating because everything they do just gets dumber and dumber.

And here’s the real kicker: The filmmaker doesn’t trust his audience enough so he slaps on a Scooby-Doo ending. He he has two characters explain everything that’s happened, why it happened and what everyone’s motivation was. And he does it twice!

The only saving grace of the film was that the theater served beer.

Writer/Director: Lawrence Michael Levine

Cast: Sophia Takal, Lawrence Michael Levine, Alia Shawkat, Annie Parisse, Jason Ritter, Kevin Corrigan


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