|By Mary Francis Hill
October 16, 2003
|Ratner’s first film a funny charmer
The best thing about a Ben Ratner movie is Ben Ratner. The Vancouver actor and now, a director and writer with his first feature Moving Malcolm has a kind of Paul Simon/Dustin Hoffman vulnerability and expressiveness, a quality that gobbled up the screen in Dirty and Last Wedding. Moving Malcolm marks the first time behind the camera as writer and director, and for the most part, it’s a success funny, with clever dialogue, character details and a winning local cast. So much work might give the impression Ratner’s spreading himself too thin. On the contrary. This workhorse has made in Moving Malcolm a funny charmer that errs by trying to express too much.
Ratner plays Gene Maxwell, a nice, if soft-spined writer waaay down on his luck. His fiancée Elizabeth (Elizabeth Berkley of Rodger Dodger and Showgirls) left him literally at the altar, he’s unemployed, and he’s got nary a shoulder to lean on. His sparing liberal-Jewish parents (the hilarious Babz Chula and Jay Brazeau) are preparing to send Gene’s autistic sister Joela (Rebecca Harker) to a group home. Gene, immersed in his unemployment struggles, is still pining for Elizabeth a curious thing, given her flaky character and mild nonchalance for his pain. So when Elizabeth asks her jilted lover to help her elderly, ailing father (John Neville) move to a new apartment, Gene says yes. Thanks to a gentle burgeoning relationship between Gene and Malcolm, Gene begins his not-so-drastic progress in the delicate art of letting go, finding his own worth amid strained relationships, dependencies, and hard times.