directed by Sheri Elwood
(Myriad, 2000)

Deeply is a deeply moving story, a film set in a small fishing village on an island off the coast of Nova Scotia and wrapped in local lore. Much like Ireland's The Secret of Roan Inish, Deeply is set both in the present and the recent past, bringing just a hint of fantasy into the tale.

A recent tragedy has left Claire McKay (young German actress Julia Brendler) scarred and sullen, a condition that seems to worsen when her mother Fiona (Alberta Watson) moves them from mainland Europe to her childhood home in Nova Scotia. But after a chance encounter with Celia, a reclusive old woman (Lynn Redgrave), Claire allows herself to be drawn into the fable Celia has written.

Much of the movie is this story within a story, set back 50 years and featuring a young, rosy-cheeked fisherman's daughter called Silly (Kirsten Dunst). Silly, a cheerful, hearty and hard-working girl, is the focus of the town's gossip and superstition because she seems linked to an ancient curse dating back to the first Viking settlers whose ship went down just off the island's shores. The disappearance of the fish in those waters and the economic hardship that follows seems to bear out their fears, but local leader Dr. Stone (Peter Donaldson) tries to stave off the inevitable payment by seeking other fortunes for the island's people. Meanwhile, the arrival of admiral's son James Griggs (Trent Ford) might be the key to Silly's salvation.

Deeply, written and directed by Sheri Elwood, weaves a tightly knit story together as the camera moves seamlessly between Silly's past and Claire's present. The cinematography is gorgeous, capturing the rough beauty of Atlantic Canada. Only the Nova Scotian accents seem forced.

Deeply is a wonderful fairytale that avoids the glossy overproduction of typical Hollywood fare. Dunst is luminous and borderline fey in her performance, while Brendler is emotionally withdrawn but teeters on the brink of a breakdown. Redgrave, though given very little room to develop her character, is suitably crusty -- but with a soft, emotional core that needs only the right prodding to come out.

This movie is worth your time. Find it and spend a short 100 minutes living a Maritimes fairytale.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 27 December 2003

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