Suspicious River

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Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Molly Parker, Callum Keith Rennie

Director: Lynne Stopkewich

Doing its rounds at various film festivals for the past year, SUSPICIOUS RIVER finally gets its UK release. The story centres around Leila Murray (Molly Parker) who works as a receptionist at a dull motel on the outskirts of a small town. One day a middle-aged weary traveller books in and tells Leila that his travels around the country make him a lonely man. Leila convinces him that if he was willing to pay $60 for a room then he would be willing to pay the same for her services. Leila temporary shuts reception and goes over to the man’s room. After he hands over the money, Leila asks him what he wants her to do, the man replies, “That’s your job”.

Meanwhile, Leila meets a young girl (Mary Kate Welsh) when she takes her lunch or has smoke breaks down by the river. There is something familiar about the girl and we eventually find that the young girl’s parents are going through a rough spot. Leila’s marriage with Rick (Joel Bissonnette) is also going through a bad patch. While their marriage is deteriorating, Rick is losing weight at such an alarming rate that when questioned about his eating habits, he confirms that he does feed himself, but usually only salads. Millie (Deanna Milligan), her co-worker at the motel, is concerned about Leila and Rick and does not believe some of the excuses that Leila tells her.

Building and hiding her savings from Rick, it is hinted that Leila might do up her recently deceased father’s house. At the motel, Leila entertains Gary Jensen (Callum Keith Rennie) who smacks Leila around a bit and worryingly ends up liking it. She keeps going back to Gary, liking his company and trusting him even more when he deals with a customer who roughs Leila up. To show her appreciation, the following day she cuts short a visit to her in-laws, telling Rick she has to cover for Millie. Going for a drive with Gary, he tells Leila of his plan for both of them to disappear forever and Leila believes that this is her dream come true. Or is it?

The setting for the movie might seem a bit familiar with the locals and their quirky problems but SUSPICIOUS RIVER is a Log Lady short of Twin Peaks. The thing is that there is no genuine humour in the movie to lift it out of its bleak settings and yes, most of the time it is cloudy or raining. The two leads put in a fine performance and even with cameo roles from Don Davis and Michael Shanks from the television show Stargate SG-1, this is as bleak and cold an affair as it could possibly be.

3 out of 6 stars