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In the heart of a junkie

Fetching Cody showcases the many facets of truth in the downtown eastside

Reviewed by Vivian Moreau

For reasons we never find out, Art is a downtown eastside junkie but also an articulate, compassionate, dreamy junkie much in love with his poor-rich-girl-turned-hooker girlfriend, Cody.

When Cody (Sarah Lind) falls into a coma after shooting up because Art fails to show for dinner, Art (Jay Baruchel) with the help of a cranked up Lazyboy time machine travels back to rescue Cody from her fate.

A sort of short-circuited hybrid between Groundhog Day and Memento , Fetching Cody takes a look at how the truth of a situation has many different facets. As Art tries to reach back in time to find the moment Cody got messed up by others in her life he comes to realize he might have been one of those others.

Concrete, razor wire, and tagged walls are the gardens of Main and Hastings where much of this film was shot and Vancouver’s downtown eastside is a feast of sharp and dirty angles with their own particular beauty. Director David Ray does more than a passable job of faithfully rendering the vibrancy of this down and out neighbourhood that nevertheless does know about the strength of community, of the tensility of friendships that can be quickly undermined by damaged psyches.

The screenplay suffers for some stock situations, the first bad period episode that can never live up to the ultimate girl locker room scene with Sissy Spacek’s Carrie. And the gay brother who decides to off himself after getting caught with a hard on in yet another gym class causes even Art to protest: "What? That’s it, you’re gay? What the hell is your problem? I used to suck guys off for money. Quit being such a baby."

It’s always risky casting healthy, well-bred white actors as street kids, but Baruchel, who earned kudos for previous roles in Almost Famous and Million Dollar Baby has enough of a gaunt, hunch-shouldered frame to pull it off. Less so Sarah Lind who seems too elegant and toned to inhabit the role of a near death junkie. Baruchel is a clever actor who knows that when Lind is off-screen his character’s faltering could be construed as the actor’s faltering and uses that to his advantage. What might have been tagged as shaky acting is simply a shaky junkie putting aside the good stuff while on a quest to save his girl.

Vancouver musician and working man’s actor Jim Byrnes is almost too darn handsome and well-toothed to be Harvey, the wiseman/dumpster diver whose Lazyboy both helps and hinders Art on his path to redemption. Also have to wonder why Byrnes’s legless physique was not used to more accurately depict the variety of breathing bodies the downtown eastside houses.

Fetching Cody

was the darling at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and should remain so if for no other reason that you may never look at your dad’s Lazyboy in quite the same way again.

Part of the Whistler Film Festival Fetching Cody plays 3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, MY Millenium Place. Director and executive producer in attendance.