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55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

When Mary's (Marcia Gay Harden) mental illness puts herself and her family in jeopardy, her husband (Joe Pantoliano) and son (Devon Gearhart) helplessly watch as she is torn from the family by the police. Forced to raise a boy on his own and cope with his wife's schizophrenia, father and son learn what it is to truly be a family. Inspired by a true story, this critically acclaimed and award winning film is as full of hope and humor as it is heartbreaking performances.

Inspired by first-hand experience, Canvas handles the mental illness of a family member with sympathy and sensitivity. Ten-year-old towhead Chris (newcomer Devon Gearhart) lives on the Florida coast with his construction worker father, John (Emmy winner Joe Pantoliano, The Sopranos), and amateur artist mother, Mary (Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock). Since a diagnosis of schizophrenia 18 months ago, Mary's behavior has grown increasingly erratic. John's insurance company refuses to cover her medication, and she refuses to take it. To add insult to injury, his mother embarrasses Chris publicly and classmates make fun of her outbursts. When Mary’s paranoid delusions result in institutionalization, John becomes Chris's sole caretaker. To take their minds off their problems, John starts building a sailboat and Chris picks up sewing. To the boy’s surprise, his customized T-shirts catch on with the local girls, like Dawn (Sophia Bairley), who thinks his overly-demonstrative mother is "nice" (she finds her own hippie-dippy mom more embarrassing). For the Marino men, these creative pursuits help them to feel useful rather than helpless. Produced by Bruce Beresford (Tender Mercies) and George Hickenlooper (Factory Girl), Joseph Greco's semi-autobiographical debut has the soft-edged camera work and generic guitar score of a Lifetime movie (it begins with seagulls flying in slow motion). Fortunately, above-average-acting--particularly from Pantoliano--and a non-melodramatic approach to a usually-sensationalized subject win out in the end. It’s an emotionally true look at an all-too-common dilemma. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Product Details

  • Actors: Joe Pantoliano, Marcia Gay Harden, Devon Gearhart, Sophia Bairley, Marcus Johns
  • Directors: Joseph Greco
  • Producers: Adam Hammel, Alan H. Rolnick, Bruce Beresford, Lucy Hammel, Eddie Mordujovich
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Screen Media
  • DVD Release Date: January 29, 2008
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000XJD3JI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,845 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Canvas" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By TheBanshee on February 7, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I almost didn't see this film. I just tuned it in on Cablevision Movies on Demand. Oscar winner (for "Pollock") Marcia Gay Harden gives a bravura performance as Mary, the wife and mother who had suffered a psychotic break about 18 months before this story begins, and whose denial that she needs continuing medical help has begun to

lead her once again into bizarre behavior and paranoid delusions, to the extent that she's finally removed from her home by the local police, who have been there many times before. But Harden's portrayal is so nuanced that we can see the loving wife and mother and the scared person inside. As Mary's frustrated, but fiercly protective and loving husband John, Joey Pantoliano is first-rate. I know I've seen him in a lot of other things, but this was the film that made me realize exactly how good he is.

But Mary's illness is only part of the story. When she's hospitalized (and in the scene where John and son Chris first go to the psychiatric ward to see a heavily sedated Mary, Harden is heartbreaking), a new relationship has to be forged between Chris, who has been taunted at school about his "crazy" parents, and John, who is seriously worried about being able to pay Mary's mounting medical bills.

To me, this film is less about schizophrenia as it is about family and love, and the human connections that redeem us no matter what's happening on the outside. There is a lot of love in this film.

If you haven't seen Canvas, you should.

EDIT: There should be a soundtrack for this film, but I haven't been able to find it. Joel Goodman's score is worth hearing, and there are a couple of gorgeous songs sung by Lisbeth Scott.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 1, 2008
Format: DVD
CANVAS is an autobiographical story by writer/director Joseph Greco and knowing that fact helps to forgive some of the weaknesses of the film. The story - how a family copes with the presence of paranoid schizophrenia and survives - comes from the heart and is as frank a film about the subject of mental illness as any out there. And for all the inherent tendencies to play it as a soap opera, the overriding effect is one of sharing lives challenged by the presence of a crushing disease.

Mary Marino (Marcia Gay Harden) has been afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia for nearly two years and her disease has affected her marriage to her working husband John (Joe Pantoliano in his best role to date) and her eleven year old son Chris (Devon Gearhart): John misses work to care for Mary and still pay for her mounting hospitalization and medical bills and Chris suffers abuse form his mocking school friends, frequently having to explain away his mother's erratic behavior. Mary paints (therapy) the same scene repeatedly, hears voices, and finally refuses to stay on her meds, a fact that results in her long-term hospitalization in a Psychiatric Hospital. John and Chris continue to love Mary despite the radical changes in their lives and each finds a means of coping: John goes on sick leave to build a sailboat for his wife and son in his backyard (he and Mary met and fell in love on a sailboat), and Chris takes up one of Mary's hobbies - sewing patches on shirts - and finds an audience and acceptance and income at his school. How the father and son survive and conquer their challenge presented by the mental illness of Mary serves to provide the ending to this story.

Each of the actors is excellent, especially Pantoliano.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Artist & Author on June 10, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have to admit that it was hard for me to watch this movie. A little seven-year-old girl somehow found our family many years ago. When we learned that her mom suffered from schizophrenia we told her that whenever her mom was off her medicine, and she didn't make a meal, this little girl should come to our house and we'd feed her. Over the years, she also slept at our house many times. Her last day of high school she ate breakfast with our kids and said she was really going to miss those times as part of our family. [She, now successful in her work, still is an important part of our family over a decade later.] As I watched this movie, it was like watching our unofficial daughter's experience all over again.

I don't think I need to say more about the authenticity of this movie. I just wish we'd had this movie when this little girl was still ten. It would have helped two ways: it would have helped her to know that other kids had to deal with the same kind of mother as she, and it would have helped her to open up to us in healthy ways so we could counsel her in ways to cope. It is extremely difficult for a child to know they should (and do) love a mother that acts irrationally. Every child who has a schizophrenic parent should see this movie; all the better if he or she sees it with an adult who is capable of counseling the child.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Granny RN on March 19, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Never heard of this movie, but saw it on TV. What a sleeper this one must have been at the box office that I missed it. I'm a psych nurse and this has the honesty of the heart-wrenching struggles with psychophrenia that touches an entire family, and the sensitivity that protects the dignity of the victim(s) of this illness. It is beautifully and empathically developed and touchingly performed. Kudos to whomever did the screenplay. Genius.
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