OH CANADA

OH CANADA

(director/writer: Paul Schrader; screenwriter: based on the “Foregone” novel by Russell Banks; cinematographer: Andrew Wonder; editor: Benjamin Rodiguez Jr.; music: Phosphorescent; cast: Richard Gere (Leonard Fife), Uma Thurman (Emma), Michael Imperioli (Malcolm), Joshua Bess (Ralph Dennis), Jacob Elordi (Young Leonard), Caroline Dhavernas (Renee), Victoria Hill (Diana), Kristine Froseth (Alicia), Megan MacKenzie (Amanda), Penelope Mitchell (Sloan/Amy), Petercky  Hans Benson (Her Wealthy Father); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Tiffany Boyle, David Gonzalez, Luisa Law, Meghan Hanlon, Scott LaStaiti; Northern Lights/Lucky 13 Productions; 2024)

“A striking nonlinear film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The title refers to the national anthem of Canada, a place where the protagonist, a draft-dodger from the US in the late 60s, fled to and became a celebrated documentary film-maker in his new country.


The chamber piece, a striking nonlinear film, is written and directed by Paul Schrader (“Master Gardener”/”The Card Counter”). It’s based on the novel “Foregone” by the late Russell Banks.

The elderly American documentary filmmaker Leonard Fife (Richard Gere) is suffering from terminal cancer. Jacob Elordi plays him in his youth, shown in flashbacks. His former students Malcolm (Michael Imperioli) and Diana (Victoria Hill), and their assistant Sloan (Penelope Mitchell) have arranged with him to make a documentary on his life to be filmed in his Montreal home with a special camera set-up he invented (the subject can look straight into the lens and see the interviewer’s face reflected there). His wife of 20 years Emma (Uma Thurman), his former student, he insists must be present on the set.

The film-within-a-film is not only about filmmaking but about storytelling, and plays out as a gut-checking personal film that defines him as a person. It tells of his regrets, missteps and the lies he lived.

Though the narrative is murky, it comes across as a thought-provoking film that reflects on parts of Gere’s secretive life no one knew (including his wife).

It played at the Cannes Film Festival.

REVIEWED ON 5/23/2024  GRADE: B