By Mary Francis Hill
October 2, 2003
Vancouver talent Ben Ratner wrote, directed and stars in Moving Malcolm, which involves characters based loosely on his own life experiences. "I'm just trying to show the duality of all these people," he says, "and to show that despite their faults, they're heroic."
In Moving Malcolm, a comedy about lovesickness, whims, and good intentions gone wrong, no one turns into the typical hero.

"No one comes out of this thing without looking like a bit of a jackass," admits Ben Ratner, the director and writer of Moving Malcolm, who also plays lead Gene Maxwell, a nice guy on the cusp of finishing last.

Few of Ratner's family members came out of the theatre without recognizing themselves in his story, either.

In literary circles, there is the expectation that a writer's first published effort will be full of elements drawn from the writer's own life: write what you know, as the old adage goes. If the same goes in every aspect of the arts, local filmmakers Ben Ratner and Nathaniel Geary, who premiere their feature-directing debuts at the film festival, prove to be no exception.

Moving Malcolm (playing Oct. 8 at the Ridge and Oct. 10 at Granville Cinemas) tells the story of a lost young man who gets dumped at the altar (by the flakey Liz, played by Rodger Dodger's Elizabeth Berkley) and then helps his ex-fiancee's father (John Neville) move house. The story is based loosely on Ratner's own life, which, by the looks of it, was a colourful one. The Maxwell home is a cerebral, lively Jewish household with chatty parents (Babz Chula and Jay Brazeau), droning aunts, and misadventures with Gene's developmentally disabled sister Jolea, a character based on Ratner's own autistic sister.

Jolea's portrayal by Rebecca Harker was sensitive enough not to ruffle familial feathers, even if the family's dealings with her made for some of the movie's most comic touches.

"My parents were very supportive of everything in the film," says Ratner. So supportive they moved out. Ratner used his parents' Westside home as a set for the Maxwell house.