The Hanging Garden review

After a 10-year absence, a gay man named Sweet William (Leavins) returns home to Nova Scotia for the wedding of his sister (Fox). He's dismayed to discover that his family is every bit as as dysfunctional as it was when he fled the roost: grandmother is afflicted with Alzheimer's; dad is a tyrannical alcoholic; there's a younger sibling he didn't even know existed; and mum just wants to jack it all in and run away. Unsurprisingly, in this environment, William is plagued by memories and visions of himself as a suicidally unhappy teenage misfit.

Shot through with an outsider's sensibility, this debut feature from talented Canadian writer/director Thom Fitzgerald is a bizarre mix of realist drama and surrealist fantasy. Poetically flooding the screen with colour, and lacing his tale of family trauma and partial reconciliation with engaging, spiky humour, he has created characters that wouldn't look out ofplace in a Tennessee Williams play. The result is occasionally a little overwrought, but there's no denying the boldness of his vision. Fitzgerald is one to look out for.

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