Lovers in a Dangerous Time calls itself a Canadian love story, but this film will resonate with anyone who has ever experienced small town life and love, or even just stumbled through their passage to adulthood.
Todd (Mark Hug) and Allison (May Charters) grew up as best friends in small town Canada, in houses separated by Todd’s family’s cherry orchard. After high school ended, Allison left for bigger and brighter things, eventually gaining work as an illustrator for children’s books, while Todd… never left home. More to the point, he moved into a shack on the cherry orchard lot, where he works for his father, goes to the bar nightly and passionately discusses hockey with friends (something all the more relevant since his younger brother, Bobby (Mark Wiebe), is a hockey superstar with a multi-million dollar contract in Boston). Things begin to look up for Todd when, thanks to a ten year high school reunion, Allison returns to town. Disillusioned with her place in life, she moves back into her old house, and she and Todd begin their friendship anew.
Lovers in a Dangerous Time is soaked in authenticity, managing to tackle all the complexity of long-time friendships that may or may not be something more. While this genre, what I’ll call the indie romantic dramedy (think Garden State, without the rampant pretension and slow-motion longing) definitely has its fair share of cliché traps, Lovers in a Dangerous Time avoids them. The relationship between Todd and Allison is just as awkward as you would imagine it could be, if two people who used to bathe together as little kids find themselves contemplating romantic sentiments for each other.
Again, I think what makes this authentic is not just its Canadian-osity, but its ability to really capture the small town life warp (you know, where one day you’re a kid, dreaming of something better, and next thing you know you’re still at home, in your 30s, with no life prospects). To that end, stars Mark Hug and May Charters, who also happen to be the writing and directing duo behind the film, are spot-on in their portrayals, and the chemistry between the two is right where it’s supposed to be. They don’t chew scenery, and what is not said isn’t ruminating under the surface in some slow smolder worthy of a romance novel cover, but instead as realistic as any contemplation you or I may have in our lives. You don’t always have to stare off into the distance to show that you’re really thinking about something…
Lovers in a Dangerous Time is a quality film, captivating, engaging and void of pretension. I would hang out with the people in this movie; I want to hang out with them. Could do without the small town trappings, though. I mean, they had a hockey rink and a bar, but did they have a movie theater?
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