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TIFF Review: The Valley Below

Elegant and understated The Valley Below seamless weaves together four vignettes that take place over one year in the town of Drumheller, Alberta. Each vignette stands up as its own separate story but the characters are all connected in some way

A pregnant teen who longs to flee the confines of small town life, a struggling musician whose alcoholism battles with his longing to be a father to his child, a husband and wife trying to figure out where to go now that all the love has died in their marriage, the town constable who moonlights as a radio DJ.

These simple stories are buoyed by an effortless honesty. Scenes of emotional intimacy are perfectly rendered, so much so that we are on the edge of our seats as the husband (Stephen Bogaert) begins to undress on the edge of a motel room bed as he waits for his wife to emerge from the bathroom. A faint hopeful smile on his lips, eyes bright but revealing the inner turmoil he must be experiencing as every effort he makes to win his wife’s affections fails.

Wide shots of the open road surrounded by the badlands and the desaturated pallet create a bleak, foreboding atmosphere.

[star v=4]