Directed by Pat Mills
Fabricating credentials to score a last-ditch job as a high school guidance counsellor, a boozing, drug-addled former child star becomes an improbable hit with his students by dispensing the worst advice possible, in this hilarious reprobate comedy from writer-director-star Pat Mills.
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★★★★ review by Anthony Le on Letterboxd
"I'm not gay, I just have a soft voice."
Guidance is by no means the greatest film, but surely, it's a fun film. Pat Mills, who writes, directs and stars in the film does a magnificent job making the film "look way more expensive than it was made for," as he put it during his Q&A after the film. And on top of the professional feel to the film, Mills manages to keep the story and its characters humane enough to maintain a sense of realism throughout the film, even if the premise is completely ridiculous. Guidance shows that even on a small budget, a small and inexperienced cast, as long as the screenplay and characters are compelling, the film can still be entertaining, which is the perfect word to describe Guidance.
Other than Ex-Machina, this is the best film I've seen at CUFF so far. It doesn't try too hard to deviate from the norms of the formulaic coming-of-age format, and this drives it to success. The formula isn't bad, and Mills understands the cliches that facilitate for success, which are the ones he adds to Guidance. Perhaps its the depressing atmosphere of films such as Uncertain Terms and the nihilistic brutality of The World of Kanako, but I greatly appreciated the optimism that radiated from Guidance after the end credits rolled. Yes, the story parallels a teenager and a grown man who are in bad states, but it shows that with the help of others, individuals can pull themselves out of their misery. Guidance wasn't made to be a statement on the state of society - it's simply a film documenting the need for friends, and to have people in your life that care for you.
And yes, Guidance does end on a utterly ridiculous note, but it's all forgiven given what the audience is feeling after the credits roll. Jabrielle's problems are resolved due to a self-sacrificing action taken by David Gold, and though things seemingly go south for Gold, the audience realizes that in the resolution of the film, Gold is finally able to accept himself for what he is, rather than masking his true identity. And all this is evoked due to the magnificent performances from the cast, who are fairly inexperienced.
Zahra Bentham, who plays Jabrielle, gives a magnificent and real performance. When you watch Guidance, you believe that it's Bentham on the screen, evoking her problems, rather than playing a character. And the same goes for Mills' portrayal of his self-written character David Gold. And during the Q&A, he even stated that his producers, after seeing his improv, decided to cast him as the lead. It almost seems as if Gold is written with Mills' life in mind, which is why it almost seems natural having him play the role. Some may label this as "unprofessional," writing a character based off yourself, but I think all that does is facilitate the presence of realism in the film, which is a necessary component, because the audience has to feel interconnected with the film somehow. And Mills' magnificently weaves the audience into the story through their interconnection with the feeling of "being lost," and through the characters.
Overall, Guidance is a film rooted in its realism and enhanced through Mills' beautifully written screenplay. Anybody can relate with Gold's problems, though individuals may not go as far as he did. But because everyone, at one point in their lives, has felt the effects of being uncertain about the future, Guidance is highly versatile in its target audience. It's funny, sweet and personal, which ultimately makes Guidance a worthwhile film.
★★★★ review by Keith Garrett on Letterboxd
A total gem that almost snuck right by me, had I not read a random review of it from one of my Letterboxd friends.
Dark and filled with subtly hilarious moments, this is a film that operates on its own unique level. I certainly can't wait for Pat Mill's next one!
★★★★ review by Tarantinoguy97 on Letterboxd
Really funny Indie comedy and kinda inspiring considering that the lead also wrote/directed it.
★★★½ review by Rob Carman on Letterboxd
an enjoyable little canadian dark comedy
★★★★★ review by there is no howie only zuul on Letterboxd
i REALLY wanted to revisit this film bc i reread my review from over a year ago and barely remember the film but now i remember just how fantastic this film is. Really well done, Really well composed story, great character building just.... wow.... i'll have to watch again soon bc theres just so many nuances and i want to pick up on them all
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