RIFF 2014: Born to Ruin Review

Born to Ruin

This behind-the-scenes look at Toronto indie rock act Wildlife as they produce their make-or-break sophomore album in Connecticut and Brooklyn opens with band members confronting their keyboard player about a drinking problem about halfway through the recording process. It’s necessary to start with this because without the conflict, the film itself from Brendan McCarney wouldn’t have any reason to exist and would be laboured and tiresome even as a DVD extra packaged with a CD.

Everything else about Born to Ruin feels like an EPK instead of anything resembling an actual film. If you really want to watch the boys in the band tinker with their instruments to make sure they’re in tune, people thoughtfully and wordlessly staring into space, and people getting the giggles over what they’re about to have for dinner, then this might be the film for you. Anyone who wants actual substance or something with a bit more weight to it would be advised to look elsewhere.

Or wait until 40 minutes into the film when McCarney finally loops back to his opening scene to play it out all over again before forgetting about it for another stretch and coming back later. There is some payoff as former Degrassi actor and keyboard player Tim Daugulis eventually sits down for what might be one of the most painfully awkward, drunken exit interviews of all time, but instead of feeling like a natural extension of a storyline in the film, McCarney’s treatment of Daugulis feels exploitative. I’m not saying that Daugulis’ actions on screen here are excusable (they really aren’t), but for something that’s essentially a puff piece in every other way to cram in something designed to make the four remaining band members feel better about themselves is disingenuous in the worst way.


But I guess the worst thing about the film is that it still gives viewers no insight into any other personalities in the band outside of the one negative viewpoint and single sentence blow offs for everyone else. It also doesn’t give aspiring artists any new insight on how to make it that they couldn’t get from talking to an established musician or producer with a well worded thirty second question. (Andrew Parker)


Saturday, October 18th, 7:00pm, The Royal

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