88 Movie Review
Written by Richelle Charkot
DVD released by Millennium Films
Directed by April Mullen
Written by Tim Doiron
2015, 88 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on January 6th, 2015
Katharine Isabelle as Gwen
Christopher Lloyd as Cyrus
Kyle Schmid as Aster
Jesse McCartney as Winks
Michael Ironside as Sheriff Knowles
Tim Doiron as Ty
With a cast as interesting as 88’s alongside a seemingly compelling gritty crime premise, going into this movie it seemed unlikely that it would fall as short as it does. In spite of all signs leading to ‘good movie,’ the weak script laden with caricature-esque ‘bad guy’ dialogue makes for a final product that will leave viewers feeling underwhelmed at best. 88’s solid crew of actors (some at their best like Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps), and some at their worst like Christopher Lloyd), creative art direction and relatively interesting concepts are not enough to save this film from its unremarkable writing that could have worked well if executed properly.
Gwen (Katharine Isabelle), a dancer from a sleazy strip joint, is madly and deeply in love with her boyfriend Aster. Seemingly attached at the hip for better or for worse, she is absolutely destroyed after he dies due to the shady actions of her wrathful boss (Christopher Lloyd). Waking up in a diner uncertain of how she got there or why she is armed, she is frantic and terrified when she discovers that she is on the run. The film progresses going in and out of Gwen’s timeline, exploring her relationship with Aster, her peculiar bonds with her boss, and her adopted alter-ego Flamingo, who has no memory of Gwen’s past or anything that she is involved with.
To effectively write a non-linear story that aims to end in a large plot reveal, it is imperative to subtly lay foreshadowing throughout the film. Without any, the viewers will feel confused and sideswiped by the end of the movie, but with too much, the viewers will feel cheated of a satisfying ending because it was too apparent throughout the course of the narrative; the latter of which is the case in 88. Due to an inherently amateur feeling which is so obvious right from five minutes into the movie, viewers will find themselves ruling out what does end up being the big twist because it is so blatant it strikes the audience as a red herring. But it’s not misdirection at all, just bad writing.
Where 88 is worthy of a hearty nod is in its direction and cinematography. Beautifully coloured in rich tones that are reflective of the gum balls that Isabelle eats throughout the course of the film, it is jarring and uneasy but in a way that establishes an appropriate feeling for viewers. Another point of strength is Katharine Isabelle’s performance as Gwen/Flamingo, as she very effectively provides visual cues to the audience on which persona she is portraying. When she is Gwen, she is wide-eyed and terrified, but as Flamingo, she is hot-headed, angry, and a force to be reckoned with.
In spite of its flaws, 88 is merely an example of amateur script writing. It is not a terrible or unforgivable watch, there are just much better ways to spend 88 minutes of time.