By Jonathan Lawrence
CALGARY – It’s rare when a film or a piece of work can genuinely portray the struggles of personal insecurities and relationship drama that doesn’t wander into washed out, network TV-friendly territory, but Sensitive Parts does just that. Written and directed by Calgarian Brendan Prost and shot on a humble $8,000 budget, Sensitive Parts is a perfect example of how raw emotion, sharp dialogue and richly drawn characters can be achieved with a modest budget and a bigger vision.
When an insecure young woman named Dolore (played by Canmore native Carolyn Yonge) is forced to confront the reality of her relationships with boyfriend Riun (Sean Marshall Jr.) and best friend Sinead (Jennifer Kobelt), she finds it all too overwhelming. Slightly naïve and highly sensitive, Dolore, understandably, doesn’t react too well to her closest friends’ alcohol-induced, one-night history. She is unwittingly thrust into a position no socially anxious person wants to be in: one of complete vulnerability and the shattering of trust.
Charming and low-key with a touch of Canadiana, the rom-com/dramedy makes excellent use of its minimal characters and locations, which gives it the close, intimate feeling of a stage play. So often the audience will wish they could stop being a bystander and just step forward and solve the communication problems and insecurities that the three characters face.
It’s clear that the director and actors worked closely together, as each character feels like they’ve lived a life; they are recognizable and real. Though each one of them differs greatly from the next, the dynamics aren’t black-or-white as often seen in film and television. In other words, the characters have depth and complexity. “Say what?” you ask bemusedly.
Though the film’s themes are rooted in anxiety and trust, the most important message is the idea of being “fierce,” a term used repeatedly throughout the story.
In fact, this idea is manifested physically in the form of a bold, confident (and, of course, dreamed-up) character, aptly named Fierce. Inspired by the reigning queen of self-confidence herself, Beyonce, Fierce shows up from time to time to remind Dolore that she has that power buried underneath. Many people will recognize this imaginary character from their own lives; one who tries to help, but we continually ignore and disbelieve.
The film’s intimate nature reflects a very personal and honest representation of both the writer and actors’ struggles with social anxiety. Fortunately, with solid acting and writing, they pull no punches in addressing and portraying such serious issues. That’s not to say the whole thing is dramatic and heavy; this isn’t a one-note flick. Throughout the roller coaster of emotions, the characters go through, there are moments of joy and humour. The best dramas are always the funniest.
That said, it’s refreshing to see a film address modern-day issues of romance and anxiety in a mature, personal and responsible way. Though the themes and characters could be timeless, it feels uniquely youthful and specifically for the millennial generation.
This is Brendan Prost’s fourth feature film. His previous films Generation Why, Choch, and Spaces and Reservations have all screened at the Globe Cinema, and Prost is becoming widely known throughout Calgary and the Canadian film scene.
The film screened theatrically in Calgary in April, followed by screenings in Vancouver and Toronto. Support local talent, damnit! Not to mention, it’s a great reminder that for a few Gs, some writing skills and a lot of hard work, you can make your own Woody Allen-inspired flick too. Not bad.
Streaming on iTunes and Amazon in May. Visit http://sensitivepartsfilm.com for detailsiTunes, Sensitive Parts