November 30, 2017

SCREEN | 'The Song of Sway Lake' Fades Away x GPIFF 2017

GPIFF 2017 | Rory Culkin Robert Sheehan Ari Gold | The Song of Sway Lake

Filmmaker Ari Gold makes his second feature, The Song of Sway Lake, a striking picture of romantic drama inspired by jazz-aged New York aristocracy. Set in the summer of 1992 at the titular lake in the Adirondacks, the film is a lush love letter of nostalgia to jazzy big band folk songs where the characters are reminiscing about a time further into the past than it seems.

Starring Rory Culkin and Robert Sheehan as buddies, Ollie and Nikolai, on their way to Ollie's grandmother's lake house to steal an invaluable classic record, the film follows as an act of defiance against his family as Ollie copes with the suicide of his father and faces off against his grandmother (Mary Beth Peil). Culkin's Ollie is sullen and sombre while Sheehan sports a thick (and laughable but earnest) Russian accent to accentuate Nikolai's care-free attitude.

Written by Gold and Elizabeth Bull, the film is a playful rumination on love and death. It's acting, setting, and storytelling are an insular yet artistic insight into a collective look back at life and family. Nothing quite fits into a picture of its very specific time and place yet the film is inviting and welcoming just the same way an old memory or photo album is.

Sway Lake is a warm, dreamy act of obsession and nostalgia. Gold's film's strangely baroque timepiece of memory is much more reminiscent of modern times than its '90s period setting. Although not quite picturesque, it's a welcome work of reminiscence.

The Song of Sway Lake screens at the 2017 Vancouver Golden Panda International Film Festival at Vancity Theatre on December 4th. Gold will be in attendance for the GPIFF Awards ceremony on December 10th at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

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