A sweet and straightforward independent movie infused with a great deal of authenticity, Lovers in a Dangerous Time is a film to be experienced rather than merely watched. I enjoyed it, but in retrospect I can’t pinpoint specific lines of dialogue or moments. That’s not a knock against the film – it’s more to say that the whole is much more than the sum of its parts. Instead, the gorgeous images of the BC Rockies, the connection between the two leads, and the emotion are the things that resonates from this film.
The movie centres on Allison (May Charters), a children’s book artist returning to her small hometown of Creston, BC for her 10-year high school reunion. While there, she reconnects with Todd (Mark Hug), her best friend since the age of 3. Considering Allison has recently lost her illustrating job, while Todd remains stuck working on his father’s orchard, the two quickly and effortlessly re-establish their friendship. Complicated feelings develop during Allison’s long sabbatical, further compounded by visits from Todd’s NHL superstar younger brother (Mark Weibe). As the seasons change, Todd and Allison will have to decide how long they can look to their pasts to avoid confronting their futures.
The performances in the movie aren’t flashy, but the connection between real-life friends Charters and Hug gives the film real heart. Charters brings a wide-eyed youthful energy to her portrayal of Allison, while Hug’s Todd puts up a mumbling front that belies a devilish charm. Weibe can seem a bit one-note until his façade slips and we see the angry little brother beneath. While the casts’ low-key, naturalistic portrayals are generally effective, the acting can occasionally feel a bit strained during some of the more heightened dramatic moments.
Co-directors Charters and Hug shoot in a decidedly low-budget digital format, which is rough in spots – notably several interiors where sound and lighting limitations show. But those moments are few and far between, as the loose camera work and casual rhythms of the film highlight Creston’s small-town feel. Robin Charters gorgeous cinematography and eye for vast British Columbia locations often reminded me of Friday Night Lights’ idyllic representations of small-town Texas. It was nice to see BC actually portraying BC in a film for once, as the lush valleys and epic mountains provide the perfect backdrop to Allison and Todd’s childhood-reclaiming journey. The soundtrack is similarly low-key and moody, with a slate of effective acoustic songs anchored by a soulful cover of the titular Bruce Cockburn classic.
The second act drags a bit, until Todd and Allison’s rash decisions begin to propel the story forward. Prior to that the script is casual to the point of shapelessness in some scenes, but overall it presents Todd and Allison’s journeys with an honesty and complexity that’s refreshing. Though modest in style, this movie concerns itself with much more than a by-the-numbers “boy and girl reconnect and discover they’re perfect for each other” story. It’s a sincere and thoughtful film with relatable small-town humour and genuine soul.
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