By Jorge Ignacio Castillo
A terrific feature debut by Canadian filmmaker Ashley McKenzie, Werewolf is a gritty look at a couple of opioid addicts trying to ‘get better’ in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. While not the most original idea, the film is interesting as it shows the twosome navigating Canadian bureaucracy as they try to attain a degree of normalcy.
While the female lead, Nessa, follows the often patronizing rules imposed by people in position of authority, her boyfriend Blaise becomes easily frustrated and lands in a vicious circle that prevents him from getting better. The relationship suffers because of it and, as painful and unfair as it sounds, cutting a loved one loose may be the only way out.
McKenzie used non-professional actors for Werewolf. The strategy pays off handsomely. Andrew Gillis and Bhreagh MacNeil give fresh and unassuming performances, captured in tight, oppressive shots.
The Canadian Crew talked to Ashley McKenzie during the latest Toronto Film Festival. During our conversation, the filmmaker discussed her relationship with Cape Breton, why she decided to go with amateur actors and how American Cinematographer magazine has shaped her work.