If You're Under 30, You Must See This. If You're 30+, You Should See This.
Closet Monster (dir. Stephen Dunn, 2015) is completely original and completely wonderful.
I had heard Dunn and star Connor Jessup interviewed on the often-dreadful q CBC radio show and decided to see it once I heard Isabella Rossellini had done the voice-over for a hamster. (How ridiculously cool of her!) Also because it was Canadian, indie and fresh. I wasn't disappointed.
Caveat: you might have issues with this film. Like, if you're a homophobe. Or if you hate violence and horror, which I avoid watching, but the Cronenbergesqueness [what's the noun for this??] which covers these elements made it bearable (...okay, I had to turn away once). They are necessary to the film, which is simultaneously genre-busting and genre-melding. As Dunn said, it is not intentionally a queer film: LGBTQ identity is a catalyst for the plot and an essential theme, but its "aboutness" is much broader than that.
He also provides some much-needed light moments. Our beloved Maritimer Mary Walsh plays her role fairly straight but the writing makes her funny and relatable. Rossellini is an understated hamster, but an important foil in the life story of Oscar Madly. The music, which sounds like our local indie radio station cranked up loud, provides a tension that clashes surreally with the Newfoundland setting, and it's an important vehicle for the plot and character development. There is more of a balance between the soundtrack, mood and setting of Fogo in the dénouement. And the very last scene is bittersweet and leaves room for viewer interpretation.
Aside from having the support of a great cast, including TO-born Aaron Abrams and East Coast–native Joanne Kelly, the film captures youth culture (especially parties/drugs), emotional struggles and personal ambitions and disappointments comfortably, no doubt due to the director's youth. That is, he deals with them deftly: we definitely feel the angst. But the poignancy of Oscar's relationship with his pet, of his not-so-great art, and of his shifting impressions of and loyalties to his parents are what centre this film, which is ultimately about becoming an adult with a somewhat-intact human heart.
I may be an old fart, but old farts exclusively made up the audience of the screening I was at and no one walked out, despite the more difficult parts Dunn challenges us with. This tells me that he's created a film that's robust and important. I'm proud that it's Canadian.