Joel Thomas Hynes’s blackly tinted, yet poignantly observant perspective, brings you his best film yet. Cast No Shadow, playing at the Yukon Arts Centre on February 10, is a beautifully filmed narrative about the most terrifying demon of all: the one within.
Set in the ever-shadowy outport Newfoundland, a world of dilapidated musty kitchens and slippery rock, this is a gut-wrenchingly accurate depiction of abject poverty combined with deeply supressed pain.
Denigrated places, no matter how physically beautiful, have the ability to twist the most innocent souls into shipwrecks haunted by the hungriest of ghosts.
Jude (Percy Hynes-White) is a malnourished boy of about 13. His father, Angus (Joel Thomas Hynes) is a bitter alcoholic, constantly in and out of jail for petty criminal activity; he treats his son like a nuisance and a lackey, and not much more. Angus’s verbal and physical bullying are bending young Jude into a twitching, mistrustful, and decidedly strange young man; his potential to be sweet leaves him all the more vulnerable to his father’s monstrous mental torture.
Constantly hen-pecked by Angus for simply existing, Jude is spiralling out of control, and attempts to cope by splitting himself between the world of reality and the one of imagination.
The film opens with Jude trying to convince a friend that Trolls really exist because the idea of Trolls had to come from somewhere and therefore must be based on some aspect of reality: something tangible.
Trolls, like any “monster” come from somewhere inside the emotionally complex caverns of the human mind. They are projections of ourselves.
Delving into the mind of our protagonist, we are led through gurgling caves and churning coves of small joys and real miseries. Trapped within a spinning labyrinth of emotion and desperation, Jude’s happenstances pin him into an ever-darkening corner of his crowded, dancing young mind, as it becomes asphyxiated from an infernal lack of hope.
Within a long-standing oral tradition (like that of Newfoundland) rumors and gossip about folks eventually conglomerate into generally believed “truths”. People make odd women into witches, and these so-called witches eventually begin to believe it themselves; they will manifest imagined and exaggerated characteristics until finally making a full transformation — becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The idea and character of Jude becomes distorted through dozens of tinted lenses, including his own. He lives in the shadow of his father’s misery and reputation, whilst becoming increasingly fearful of his own. He struggles desperately to break a cycle of abuse and negativity in which he is stuck and steeped, like a little crab apple wanting more than anything to fall far from the tree.
St. Jude is said to be the patron saint of desperate situations, a saint that is evoked for the most hopeless of causes. Being powerless and unwanted, Jude is forced to face an impossible test of will and faith with little help from anyone but himself.
He must keep the demons at bay by satiating them with fool’s gold.
But has he enough?
Cast No Shadow screens as part of the Available Light Film Festival 2015 on Tuesday February 10 at 9:30 p.m. at the Yukon Arts Centre. The film’s writer and lead actor, Joel Thomas Hynes (Book of Negroes, Republic of Doyle) along with director Christian Sparkes, will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A.