TIFF 2015: Al Purdy Was Here Review

TIFF DOCS

Who the hell is Al Purdy? When I first heard that former Macleans film critic Brian D. Johnson was making a film about a Canadian poet I figured my ignorance was fairly contained. Yet for many that I do know and admire Leonard Coen, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, Denis Lee Purdy is an iconic, critical voice to Canadas poetic legacy.

Johnsons film provides biographic elements, musical contributions and cinematic flights of fancy (including some stunning drone shots). Framed by a storyline about the preservation of Purdys A-frame cottage that now serves as a writers retreat, the film manages to prod those who knew the man into providing warm and insightful recollections.

This is no hagiography, and for fans and neophytes alike youre going to get a richer and more complex portrayal than films of this ilk often provide. While the first act does plenty of heavy lifting to set the pieces in play, its the last two thirds where the film finds its voice, comfortable in letting Purdys words do much of the talking. Were introduced to the land he called home, and see from those affected by his writing both the quality and caliber of Purdys work. The film serves both as an introduction/ invitation into the poet’s work and a celebration by those who knew him and his work best.

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Screens

TUE SEP 15 7:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 2
THU SEP 17 4:45 PM @ Isabel Bader

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Dork Shelf's TIFF 2015 Guide

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