Suspicious River – Review

Worth seeing: for Molly Parker's compelling anti-hero in a suitably downbeat atmosphere.
Director:Lynne Stopkewich
Featuring:Molly Parker, Byron Lucas, Callum Keith Rennie, Deanna Milligan, Joel Bissonnette, Mary Kate Walsh, Michael Shanks, Norman Armour, Sarah Jane Redmond
Length:92 minutes
Certificate:18
Country:Canada
Released:31st August 2001

In “Suspicious River”, Molly Parker delivers a chilling lead performance as an emotionally disturbed small-town girl.

Director Stopkewich pushes the boundaries with her subject matter; after tackling necrophilia in “Kissed”, here she studies infidelity, prostitution and violence.

Parker plays Leila, a motel receptionist in the town of Suspicious River. Leila’s boredom with her marriage is a metaphor for her tedium with life.

In her search for more excitement, Leila sets out to find more interesting men, turning her attention to the lonely guests who pass through the motel. As her reputation spreads, she strikes up a closer relationship with one particular regular. But the path she chooses to escape her mindless existence isn’t paved with the gold she’d dreamed of.

Molly Parker’s detached anti-hero is compelling, while Callum Keith Rennie can do mysterious, sympathetic, and menacing with equal conviction.

Stopkewich conjures up a suitably downbeat atmosphere in a riverside town where rain is frequent and the sun never shines.

But it’s difficult to accept Leila’s actions. It’s clear the decisions she makes are all hopelessly wrong. So when her life takes a severe downward turn, rather than feeling sorry for her, the tendency is to feel she was asking for it. This ultimately makes “Suspicious River” little more than a grim tale of a self-perpetuating and unrelenting loser.

A version of this review was previously published on the bbc.co.uk/films website.