CTV’s Elijah raises a feather
Aboriginal leader’s life is passionately depicted
Docudramas are a dime a dozen.
Every so often, though, a docudrama comes along that has style, panache and flair to succeed.
Elijah (CTV – 8 p.m.), director Paul Unwin and writer Blake Corbet’s fastpaced, eccentric biography of Rupertsland, Man., aboriginal leader Elijah Harper, is a delight. The historical record is known to anyone who followed the national news in 1990. With the Meech Lake Accord a seeming fait accompli, Harper raised an eagle feather and said “No” to the ratification of the legislation.
This is dazzling, confident filmmaking, written with unbridled passion and burning with intelligence and wit. Unwin is a Brit who has directed Poirot TV movies and Syrup, the BAFTA-nominated, Cannes Jury Prize-winning short film. Corbet is a Calgary native who produced the homegrown films Mile Zero, The Delicate Art of Parking and Missing in America.
Together they have taken a familiar tale – a young aboriginal boy is picked on in school and grows up to become a man of substance – and made it something quite special, without resorting to the mawkish, hideous clichés prevalent in so many dramatized re-creations.
The cast features numerous wellknown names – Currie Graham, Maury Chaykin, Gabrielle Miller, Lorne Cardinal, Glen Gould – but it is relative unknown Billy Merasty, as Harper, who steals the show. Quite literally, as it turns out.
Recount (The Movie Network – 9 p.m.), HBO’s lively retelling of the 2000 U.S. presidential mess-up in Florida, features familiar names in unfamiliar roles: Kevin Spacey as Al Gore’s chief of staff, Ron Klain; Denis Leary as Al Gore’s campaign manager, Michael Whouley; John Hurt as former U.S. secretary of state Warren Christopher. Why, that’s even Laura Dern as the infamous Katherine Harris. Sure, it’s yet another dramatized re-creation. But who knew it would be so topical?
ReGenesis (The Movie Network – 8 p.m.), the Gemini-nominated drama that stars Peter Outerbridge as rogue bio-geneticist David Sandstrom, reaches the end of its DNA strand in tonight’s series finale, in which Sandstrom tackles the thorny issue of human cloning.
Real life vs. reel life: Who knew Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson harboured so much antipathy for each other? In real life they probably don’t, but reel life is a different story. Their claymation likenesses settle any and all outstanding scores tonight on Celebrity Deathmatch (The Comedy Network – 9:30 p.m.).
Relative unknown Billy Merasty (centre) steals the show as Elijah Harper.