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Finding Self

  • Nov 11, 2007
WHOLE NEW THING is another fine little film from Canada, utilizing an excellent cast of Canadian actors to present a modern day conundrum about identity in a manner more sensitive than most other films addressing the subject. Director/writer (with actor Daniel MacIvor) Amnon Buchbinder has created a series of characters, seemingly disparate in age and outlook, who each has a problem coping with who they actually are, and with great skill this story interweaves these fascinating people, isolated by the frigid planes of Nova Scotia into a complex puzzle that answers far more questions about identity than is at first apparent.

Emerson (a strong debut for Aaron Webber) is the thirteen-year-old son of environmentalist/post-hippie parents Kaya (Rebecca Jenkins) and Rog (Robert Joy) whose creative look at life has provided home schooling for Emerson, encouraged his gift for writing, but now find that there are gaps in Emerson's education that suggest enrolling him in the local Middle School might mend. Kaya and Rog are in a stale marriage: each has needs the other can't appreciate. Emerson enjoys his isolation and is not eager to move into the 'mainstream' by attending school. Kaya visits the middle school and meets teacher Don Grant (Daniel MacIvor) whom she invites to her home to meet and impress Emerson. Don is a bright, lovable teacher who has failed in gay relationships, relegating his needs to visits to park restrooms. When Don comes to dinner, Emerson is impressed with Don's acceptance of Emerson's outlook and decides to give the school a chance.

Emerson, long-haired and androgynous in appearance, suffers ridicule at school but finds considerable solace in the classroom atmosphere Don Grant adapts to suit Emerson's intelligent needs. Don is 42 and Emerson is 13 and while they become friends, Emerson develops his first 'crush' on Don. And while this is happening Kaya meets young stud Denny (the always excellent Callum Keith Rennie) and begins an affair. Many moments of electric snaps occur among all of the characters (a matter of whose crisis is more threatening!) and the manner in which each of the confrontations with each character and conjoined demons occur begin to resolve the seemingly improbable results that alter the growth of each.

Part of the success of a film dealing with such subject matter is the manner in which each of the stories is told. There is no crude acting out, no pat answers, and no unnecessary 'drama' for drama's sake. This is a very honest little film that deserves the attention of a wide audience eager to understand the varying motivations of other people. Grady Harp, November 07

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More Whole New Thing (2007) reviews
review by . August 24, 2007
Ah, I love a chance to do a little alliteration in my reviews.    This Canadian film is very entertaining and very well done. The story of a young boy coming to grips (often), with his sexuality is handled with good taste and intelligence. The acting, particularly by Aaron Webber, is subperb. If he's not actually gay, he certainly does a good job of conveying some of what it means to be thirteen and dealing with such issues.    The sub-plot involving Emmerson's …
review by . August 09, 2007
"Whole New Thing"    One to See    Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride    "Whole New Thing" (Picture This Entertainment) is a gem of a film. It has an intelligent screenplay, strong characters and good acting, and beautiful cinematography. Everything about the film is solid and Aaron Webber as Emerson in his first movie is just amazing.   Director Amnon Buchbinder has created an independent film that ranks with the best. Dealing with …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #96
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Emerson Thorsen, 13, lives with his parents in their eco-home in the wilds of Nova Scotia. The precocious teen has completed his first book, writing and illustrating all 1000 pages of it. Meanwhile, the home-schooled youth can barely add 2 + 2, so his mother enrolls him in the local junior high. Emerson isn t happy about the move, and has trouble fitting in at the new school.

One of Emerson s new teachers is Don Grant, a 42-year old closeted gay man. Emerson initially is scornful of his teacher, but when Emerson speaks up in class, Don treats his ideas seriously. Emerson's scorn changes to respect, but soon he develops his first crush on Don. Emerson throws himself into this awakening of the heart with dangerous abandon. Don, who isn t out to the students, reacts with alarm. Eventually, Don has to learn how to curb Emerson's feelings without crushing his spirit. In the process, both student and teacher learn valuable lessons about surviving growing pains.
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DVD Release Date: July 31, 2007
Runtime: 92 minutes

First to Review

"One to See"
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