Mur­der most fan­tas­ti­cal

THE CALL­ING ★★★

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARABRADY

Di­rected by Ja­son Stone Star­ring Susan Saran­don, Gil Bel­lows, Ellen Burstyn, To­pher Grace, Don­ald Suther­land, Christo­pher Hey­er­dahl 15A cert, gen re­lease, 107 min

In­spec­tor Hazel Mi­callef (Susan Saran­don), is a mo­rose, liquor -loving de­tec­tive who lives with her el­derly mother Emily (Ellen Burstyn) and chronic back­ache in a snowy ru­ral town in Hamil­ton, On­tario.

One morn­ing her ba­con sand­wich and Ir­ished-up cof­fee is in­ter­rupted by a call to check in on a lo­cal woman of her ac­quain­tance. Hazel is sur­prised to dis­cover a mur­der scene. Shocked, she and her col­league Ray (Gil Bel­lows) are soon joined by a younger of­fi­cer (To­pher Grace). The small-town­ers are sus­pi­cious that a city boy should ar­rive just as they’re in­ves­ti­gat­ing their first ma­jor in­ci­dent in years. But when they re­alise how weird the crime scene is, they’re forced to pull to­gether.

There’s some­thing off about the vic­tim’s mouth, some­thing that may or may not have to do with Christian mys­ti­cism, herbal reme­dies and, oh yes, Don­ald Suther­land. Think Columbo. But with a lady cop and an­cient Catholic mumbo jumbo. The Call­ing is a lit­tle bit Se7en, a lit­tle bit Fargo, and quite a bit daft. You couldn’t de­scribe it as sub­tle: Hazel’s de­pen­dency on al­co­hol and painkillers is trum­peted by in­ces­sant, heroic guz­zling from pill­boxes and whiskey bot­tles.

The prime sus­pect’s ca­pac­ity for mur­der is bel­lowed by odd fa­cial hair and a doc­tor’s bag. The fi­nal shot is wildly silly. Still, work­ing against the sub­lime, hilly back­drop of Dundas, di­rec­tor Ja­son Stone keeps his pac­ing el­e­gant and the at­mos­phere moody.

A thor­oughly en­joy­able, old-pro cast set up some lovely cross-chem­istry: Saran­don and Bel­lows, Saran­don and Grace, Saran­don and Burstyn. The Twi­light Saga’s Christo­pher Hey­er­dahl coun­ter­points with a per­for­mance as in­deli­bly creepy as it is un­ex­pect­edly charis­matic.

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