SUCK IT UP – directed by Jordan Canning – SPOILERS
Best friends Ronnie (Grace Glowicki) and Faye (Erin Carter) are having trouble dealing with the death of Ronnie’s brother Garrett, who was also Faye’s first major romantic involvement. Garrett drove a classic Mustang convertible and died of testicular cancer. His family apparently had a genetic predisposition to the disease, so his affliction did not surprise him. By all accounts he dealt with his own demise quite well, just not in a way that endeared him to others, or that helped others cope.
There is much discussion of Garrett, but there are no flashbacks showing him. Not even a photograph.
Dina (Ronnie’s mom) calls Faye for help with Ronnie’s heavy drinking. After Ronnie throws up on the dining room table during dinner, Faye decides (the next morning) to put her still unconscious friend in Garrett’s powder blue Mustang and head for the summer cottage in Invermere. (The starting point of the trip is never mentioned, but it takes several hours, and when Faye tells Ronnie she is applying for a job in Vancouver, Ronnie responds “That’s far.” So the trip probably begins near the midpoint between Invermere and Vancouver, in the general area of Kelowna or Kamloops.)
In an interview with Rob Patrick of Cinema Spartan, director Jordan Canning explained why the location was chosen.“The film was written for Invermere,” she explained, “in a pretty cool way, because Julia [Hoff] is an American who lives in LA and has never been to the location. Grace and Erin used to go to Invermere as kids — not together, but their parents both had cottages. The cottage we actually shot in is Grace’s family’s cottage. Julia wrote the script for Invermere. Grace and Erin sent her a list of places in the community. There were all of these great things that, if you’re inspired by them, would be great for the script. Julia took them all in and created this world.”
In Invermere, Faye and Ronnie encounter Alex (Toby Marks), who runs a candy store, and had a fling with Garrett the previous summer. (Ronnie knows her but Faye doesn’t.) Alex has a roommate named Granville (Dan Beirne) who immediately hits it off with Faye. Granville is diabetic, asthmatic, and something of a space buff. There is Dale (Michael Rowe) who runs a traveling mud-wrestling operation that becomes surprisingly relevant to the story. And there is Shamus (Blake Gordey), the local weed merchant. (The film was made before legalization.) Shamus also runs the town’s five-pin bowling alley.
When she was younger, Faye was afflicted with a stutter. She still uses a rhyme to combat it. Faye (we learn) is genetically predisposed to skin cancer. She shuns the sun in an attempt to avoid melanoma, and also refuses to swim in the lake for fear of getting swimmers’ itch, prompting Ronnie to tell her: “You wouldn’t recognize fun if it was sucking on your puffy nips.” The two women express themselves in fundamentally different ways. Faye uses sarcasm a lot, while Ronnie is often unintentionally poetic.
Faye’s trip to the cottage interrupted her job search, so she unwisely schedules a skype interview with Sarah Martin, Dean of Edge Cliff Academy in Vancouver. This leads to the film’s funniest and best scene. Ronnie and the gang spike Faye’s lemonade with ecstasy half an hour before the call (that they didn’t know was happening), so her conversation with Dean Martin did not work out well.
We learn much more about Faye in this film than we do about Ronnie.
And then there’s the notes that Garrett left, one for each of them. Dina brings the notes to the cottage while Ronnie is out (she also brings some of Garrett’s ashes in a pickling jar for Ronnie to scatter), and Faye is afraid to open hers, so she opens Ronnie’s instead. This leads, as one might expect, to conflict, and the fortuitous arrival of Dale and his inflatable mud wrestling raft. Faye and Ronnie take charge of that for the purpose of venting their frustrations.
Ronnie and Faye resolve their grief in a unique way. After the impromptu wrestling bout, the two trade stories about Garrett, amending their memories of the deceased to include his faults (which were many). They go home, effectively liberated from Garrett’s influence by an honest appraisal of him, and it is almost as though events in Invermere never happened, and that Alex and Granville and the boys from the bowling alley are banished from their lives as well. Granville leaves one of his paintings as a gift for Faye. She does not take it home with her.
YouTube, has a trailer, and some of the scenes in it are not in the final cut of the film.
Erin Margurite Carter (Ronnie) will be Jess in SAMANTHOLOGY, a feature consisting of nine short films (one of which was written by Carter), about nine people impacted by the death of the same character (Samantha Braun, played by Ashley Leggat). The jogger who finds the body, a pair of Coroner’s Assistants, an abusive casting director, Sam’s husband and one of his work colleagues, the son of a lonely woman befriended by Sam, a professional cuddler, and Sam’s best friend are the subjects of individualized vignettes. Gabe Grey and Kate Corbett (each of whom appeared in three episodes of LOST GIRL) appear as detectives. Karissa and Katie Strain (WYNONNA EARP) are in the cast, as are three others who appeared on LOST GIRL (Emily Piggford, Chloe Sullivan, and Linzee Barclay). A trailer is available on YouTube. No release date has been announced. UPDATE: 21 May — SAMANTHOLOGY opened 10 May at Carlton Cinemas in Toronto.
The soundtrack for SUCK IT UP is exceptional, and is available as a Spotify playlist. Three of the songs are by Alice and the Glass Lake (Alicia Lemke) from an album she created while she was being treated for cancer. After Lemke died, the music was finished and the final production on the album was done by her friend Kiesza and her guitarist Adam Agati. Coals (which we hear while the two are washing off the mud in the lake) and Distance (heard during the drive to the cottage) are from that posthumous album, “Chimaera“. Luminous (in the background during the end sequence) is from The Evolution EP (2013)