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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.09.09] Canada movie review trailer horror comedy

Year: 2009
Directors: Reginald Harkema
Writers: Reginald Harkema
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 8 out of 10

[Editor's note: Special thanks to our friend Marina from Row Three for the following review!]

While introducing the first screening of his film at VIFF, director Reginald Harkema commented that Leslie, My Name is Evil was a very divisive film. He wasn’t kidding.

Taken from real accounts and transcripts of the Charles Manson trial, using archival footage and intermingling the entire thing with a wicked sense of humour, this is the type of film that would, by any other director, end as a total disaster. The fact that it not only ends well but that it starts off with a bang is a great credit to director Reg Harkema who manages to create a sometimes serious and sometimes hysterical but always entertaining film which pokes a finger at everything from war to religion.

The story interweaves Leslie’s experience with cult life with that of Perry, an up-and-coming chemist who always seems on the verge of sin. Highly religious, Perry is fighting the urge to sleep with his girlfriend (an urge she reciprocates & even encourages; she is the definition of a tease) while also avoiding war by avoiding the draft, something which is not sitting well with his father. Though the film may feature Leslie’s name, the film feels much more like Perry’s story than Leslie’s. Perhaps it’s the fact that he, his actions and troubles are more accessible and easier to associate with than Leslie’s and so Leslie’s story seems that much more outlandish.

Though it may take place in the 70s, Harkema’s film is timely, tackling issues that were important then and are important in today’s world. Issues of war (what are we doing in Vietnam?), religion and family are explored with great success through both the stories being told and the archival footage that Harkema occasionally uses to great effect.

It may start off based on real events but Harkema does a fantastic job of integrating fact with fiction to create a surreal sort of world where the history we know is mixed and inseparable from the imagined. It’s this removal from reality that keeps the film accessible and which will leave the viewer wondering just how much of it really did happen and how much of it was simply created. It’s the blurring of lines that makes Leslie, My Name is Evil a true joy and it’s the blurring which is likely to upset some viewers that are more interested in fact. I believe the director’s intent was never to sell his story as purely factual (he would have made a documentary if he wanted to state fact) but to shock the viewer into realizing the absurdity of events and how they unfolded and in the process, shining a light on the absurdity of what is happening in the world today.

The film is supported by a talented group of up-and-coming actors including Ryan Robbins as Charlie, Kristen Hager as Leslie (a true discovery), Gregory Smith as Perry (the young juror who himself is sucked into Leslie’s story) and the fabulous Don McKellar who should really step in front of the camera more often.

Accompanied by fantastic archival footage and brilliantly selected music (we’re talking Quentin Tarantino level genius at work here), Leslie, My Name is Evil is one to see. It’s bound to piss some viewers off while others will laugh but without fail, it will make you think and question what you’ve seen and perhaps even what you believe.

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rybo (12 years ago) Reply

i'm sorry but this movie and this director are shit. why are you encouraging this kind of crap bland ridiculous canadian filmmaking.

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