One of the earliest scenes in Bruce McDonald’s newest film, The Husband, features lead actor and co-writer, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, staring blankly at the parts under his car’s hood struggling to figure out how it all works. The scene is a fitting opening to a film about a melancholic single father trying to make life work for himself. It’s also a fitting metaphor for the film as it lingers on a few concepts searching for an emotional and enduring statement with which to send the audience home.
McCabe-Lokos plays Henry Andreas, a peevish 30-something trying to pick up the pieces of life and take care of his infant son after his wife (Sarah Allen) is jailed for having sex with a 14-year-old schoolboy named Colin Nesmith (Dylan Authors). The character of Henry is played decently by McCabe-Lokos, albeit one-dimensionally. Henry starts off sympathetic, but with little else happening during the movie besides his brooding and stalking of his wife’s young lover, he quickly turns pitiful and boring.
Stephen McHattie (Pontypool) and August Diehl (Inglorious Basterds) make appearances as a few of Henry’s friends and family but we don’t see enough of them as perhaps we should. They give an outsider’s look into the neurotic antics of Henry and breathe some life into the script. More time given to these characters and plot points would have helped take the load of carrying the story off the back of our simplistic and fragile protagonist.
To compare to Blue Ruin, a film that played earlier in the festival, which focused on the inability to let go of the past, the hopelessness of revenge and its connection with cowardice, rather than bravery, drives the message home with a dynamic main character and gripping storytelling. The Husband seems to be trying to deliver a similar message, but the script falls flat and the simplistic direction does little to help stimulate visually. For a movie full of emotions, it would have helped if the camera were more in the dramatic action, acting like a character on to its own. Instead, it seems distant and far away making it even harder to connect with the film.
The plot is interesting and leaves plenty of room for creative and thoughtful storytelling. The script however ends up taking predictable routes and uninspired leaps.
The final moments of emotional catharsis push for resolution but there’s very little meat on its bones to get it across the finish line. A solid filmmaking effort, but an all-too-plain insight into love and heartache.
By Alonso Melgar