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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 Marys 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 boys 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. Its an emotionally true look at an all-too-common dilemma. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Top customer reviews
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.
I gave it four stars because while I thought it was good it isn't one I would watch over and over again because it's too heart breaking. But definitely worth watching!
Most recent customer reviews
This Was a wonderful Movie.One I Hope Everyone Will See.