Infidelity’s darkness faithfully shown
BY KATHERINE MONK, POSTMEDIA NEWS APRIL 4, 2014
3½ out of 5
Directed by: Bruce McDonald
Starring: Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, Sarah Allen
As if the reality of the situation weren’t bad enough, but even the word is humiliating: Cuckold.
The word has barbs that catch the skin like a fish hook. Try to yank it out and it’s nothing but pain and blood. Let it sit, and it festers to the point of infection and potential amputation.
No wonder Henry (Maxwell McCabe-Lokos) is so miserable. He’s been cuckolded by his wife, Alyssa (Sarah Allen), who not only had sex with another man, she had sex with a minor and is now serving time for her statutory indiscretion.
The movie opens on the occasion of a jailhouse visit to his incarcerated sweetie: Henry identifies himself as the husband upon entering the fortified walls, and we know from this point forward the real prisoner isn’t Alyssa. It’s Henry.
Trapped by his rage over the betrayal and his paralyzing male insecurity over the public humiliation of it all, Henry can’t seem to bend the thick bars of his ego cage to see the world is still intact, even beautiful.
Instead, he obsesses over the act, which he imagines in his head over and over again.
It’s the same testosterone stew pot that Tom Cruise occupied in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut as he imagined Nicole Kidman fornicating with another man. The only difference is McCabe-Lokos is a much better actor, so we get a lot more than a furrowed brow and a clenched fist. We get a sense of profound fear and vulnerability cresting on anger – which is pretty scary stuff, and propels a great majority of domestic abuse cases.
McCabe-Lokos wrote the script for this strippeddown piece of psychological suspense that gets to the bony heart of love. And to his credit, he doesn’t mind looking unsympathetic and cruel, even completely irresponsible.
Through Henry’s bloodshot eyes, we can see how empty and victimized he feels, but through director Bruce McDonald’s lens, a sense of the ridiculous settles in to keep the whole contraption a little off-kilter and oddly, warmly human.
These softer notes are welcome because they give texture and depth to a piece that often feels a little too forensic and sterile, like something left on the coroner’s slab to be sliced open at a later date.
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