TIFF 2015 Review: Closet Monster
The 2010s have been a great decade so far for young Canadian filmmakers. Xavier Dolan has seemingly taken over the world with film like Mommy, Tom at the Farm, and Laurence Anyways. This festival season sees the introduction of two unique voices: Andrew Cividino, whose Sleeping Giant wowed at Cannes, and Stephen Dunn, whose film Closet Monster will have its world premiere at TIFF.
Closet Monster tells the story of Oscar Madly (Connor Jessup) a teenaged special effects artist coming to terms with his sexuality. His best friend Gemma (Sofia Banzhaf) is in love with him, but Oscar has his eyes set on Wilder (TIFF Rising Star Aliocha Schneider), the mysterious new boy in their small Newfoundland town. With the encouragement of his talking hamster, and discouragement from his father (Aaron Abrams), Oscar decides to finally confront his homosexuality and do battle with his Closet Monster.
Dunn finds his own directorial voice that is equal parts Xavier Dolan and David Cronenberg. The film is quite often playful, but sinks into seriousness when necessary. One of the most delightful elements in the film is Oscar’s talking hamster. Throughout the film, I could not place who was doing the hamster’s voice. It sounded like someone doing a really terrible impression of Isabella Rossellini. But as the credits rolled, lo and behold, it was the animal-loving Rossellini herself. With influences from the best Canadian voices, Closet Monster is a very solid film and a promising debut for director Stephen Dunn.