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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 12.12.13] Canada comedy drama

For the most part, cheating spouse movies tend to focus on the wife who is left behind to care for the child and the family home while the husband goes gallivanting around. Occasionally we see the husband's story but for the most part, it's all about the poor woman who is left behind to, in essence, pick up the pieces. The Husband isn't that movie in reverse. It does touch on that but Maxwell McCabe-Lokos and Kelly Harms are far more interested in telling one man's journey as he deals with the crummy hand fate has dealt him.

McCabe-Lokos also stars as Henry, a somewhat single father responsible for caring for his son. He's not really single, it's not like his wife died or that he's divorced. She's in jail for sleeping with a 14 year old student and Henry has stayed with her, standing by her side, paying the legal bills, caring for their child, looking after their home and keeping things together while Alyssa serves out the rest of her sentence. The story picks up as Alyssa is serving out her last few weeks in jail. Henry is miserable, you can see it in the way he walks, talks and stands. He doesn't look anyone in the eye. He's deflated and the recent events of his life are wearing heavy on him.

Frustrated and in a moment of weakness, or perhaps strength depending on how you look at it, Henry sets into motion a series of events that makes him questions everything: why he's still married, what his wife's actions say about him and how he needs to face or let go of the hatred and pain he feels for Colin, the teenager his wife took advantage of.

The Husband isn't a very funny movie but McCabe-Lokos and director Bruce McDonald, best known around these parts as the man behind Pontypool, delve deep into some of Henry's lowest moments and from those they gleam a little bit of tragic comedy. Henry's ill fated attempt to contact Colin is a pathetic cat and mouse chase that doesn't provide any closure for either of them (though in the end it is the catalyst for Henry's final decision) while Henry's awkward evening with the babysitter is both creepy and amusing. The laughs in The Husband stem from an uncomfortable feeling of seeing a man completely lost in his life and not from some half cooked joke.

McCabe-Lokos and Harms dig into some very dark territory and no one comes out unscathed. Alyssa's mental state is questioned (why else would someone sleep with a 14 year old) and Henry's isn't much better as he deals with everything from the fact that he was set aside for a child to what his wife's actions say about him as both a husband and a man. After much destructive soul searching, we eventually see the confrontation between Henry and his wife and though we might think we know how it all ends, The Husband surprises by taking the road less travelled, forcing the audience to consider the repercussions of Henry's decision.

McDonald and cinematographer Daniel Grant shoot The Husband with a lot of close-ups that give the movie an intimate, almost claustrophobic feel, like we're sharing each awful moment with Henry and McCabe-Lokos' performance is outstanding, particularly in his physicality which changes gradually throughout the movie.

The Husband is a fantastic achievement, a movie which mines the deep connections of family, relationships and the self only to come to the realization that there are no easy answers: sometimes life just sucks and we have to work our way through the ugliness to find a kernel of good on the other side and even then that good is relative.

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