Murmur @ Slamdance

Loneliness can can drive people to all kinds of behaviour. None of it usually good.

Donna (Shan MacDonald – first film), whose has a drinking problem and a daughter who won’t speak to her, starts some court mandated volunteering after being found guilty of driving while impaired. She finds herself at the local animal shelter cleaning cages, walking dogs and other lower level stuff.

Living a rather lonely and isolated life, Donna, a woman probably in her sixties, begins “rescuing” animals in need. She brings home one dog from the shelter who is about to be euthanized. Her surpervisor tells her this is the only one she will allow Donna to have.

Rescuing animals becomes a compulsion. Donna begins to fill the hole in her life with animals. She is soon hoarding them in her small apartment. As with all animal hoarding, her place becomes a disaster area filled with poop, pee and animals everywhere. It is going to get worse before it gets better.

Today’s world is an ever shifting one. Things change quick as you can blink. Aging has been tricky at any time in history. Now, older people have to deal with loneliness more than ever. With the high pace of life, they get left behind unless they are close with their family. Donna isn’t, so she finds herself without any human companionship. As such, she begins to rescue animals. Attracted to their offer of unconditional love and how they depend on her for everything.

Director Heather Young, who is one of Canada’s best up and coming filmmakers, has taken a rather simple story and come up with something which is moving, poignant and highly relatable. Forces you to think about (as the Beatles lyric goes) all the lonely people. Where do they all belong? All rather realistically done. With a combo of drama and documentary style it really reaches in and grabs you.

We all want connection. Of some sort. Any sort. Crave companionship. We will do all sorts of things to get it. Things that are good and bad for you. Shan MacDonald is not an actress. This is her first acting job. Her rawness adds to the melancholy. She makes Donna seem like someone we all know. Someone who is so lonely she looks for companionship anywhere. Even with another species.

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