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Chris Knight: Dark comedy Kingsway is a meandering, but worthwhile, trip

Colleen Rennison and Jeff Gladstone in Kingsway.
Colleen Rennison and Jeff Gladstone in Kingsway.

Toronto audiences going to see Kingsway can be forgiven for thinking the title of this Canadian film refers to the city’s affluent west-end neighbourhood. In fact, writer/director Bruce Sweeney is talking about the lengthy thoroughfare that meanders diagonally through the otherwise tidy grid of greater Vancouver, like a drunk at an office party.

The street sets the scene for this dark comedy, but it also describes the way the various characters bounce off one another. When semiotics professor Matt (Jeff Gladstone) sees his wife’s motorcycle parked in front of a seedy Kingsway motel, he fears the worst. Given that he’s already in therapy for depression, his family worries this could push him over the edge.

The always reliable Camille Sullivan plays Matt’s no-nonsense sister Jess, while Gabrielle Rose nails the part of the neurotic mother, though I’m not sure what purpose it serves to make her Hungarian. Paul Skrudland plays Sean, whom I at first took for another sibling. Turns out he’s actually Matt’s buddy, which is fortunate given what he gets up to later in the film.

Over the movie’s 92 minutes, Matt tries to commit suicide, breaks up with his musician wife (Colleen Rennison), and then make tentative steps to get back together with her. Meanwhile, Jess embarks on several relationships, some wiser than others.

It’s a busy screenplay, with the result that a few of the narrative threads get a little lost. But if you’re focused on Matt’s journey, the trip will be worthwhile. Just don’t expect his path to be a straight one.

2.5 stars

Kingsway opens Dec. 13 at the Carlton in Toronto.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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