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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 10.03.13] Canada scifi drama

From a technical standpoint, Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas' The Oxbow Cure is brilliant; a gorgeous and hypnotic movie that relies almost exclusively on the breathtaking scenery, the music and the wordless performance of lead actress Claudia Dey to push it along. What I can't quite figure out is what the bloody point of it is.

As the film opens, Lena is packing up her home in the city and saying goodbye to her friends. She's leaving behind her busy life to hide and suffer alone in a cabin at the edge of a lake and for most of the movie's running time, that's exactly what she does. She exercises, she looks our the window, she takes photos of her surroundings and she simply sits and waits for the illness to take over. It sounds dull and for the most part it is. As beautiful as The Oxbow Cure is (and it's undeniably beautiful) there needs to be more than just pretty pictures and music and the story that drives the plot is almost completely missing.

There are snippets of story tucked in here and there. Lena chatting with someone familiar with her illness about some new thing that's ailing her, flashbacks to Lena's father who is ill but there is little beyond these two small nuggets and instead Lena is left to her own devices, at one point following a mysterious light which may or may not be a UFO and coming into contact with a creature that is likely an alien or a figment of her imagination – it is never quite clear what the creature is or what its purpose is.

Though I enjoyed entire sections of The Oxbow Cure, a movie needs more than pretty pictures and music to sustain it and while the movie is effective to a point, it feels like a great idea for a short film stretched into a feature. It touches on some interesting ideas, themes of isolation and survival and there are hints that perhaps Lena may be suffering from mental health issues as a result of her isolation but these ideas are only touched on in passing and the movie could have been boosted by an exploration of some of these themes.

There simply isn't enough of a story here to warrant The Oxbow Cure's eighty minute run time and while some praise it as a minimalist masterwork, it feels like a little too much flash and not enough substance. That said, filmmakers Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas are undeniably talented. They have a great grasp on the use of sound and images to develop mood, I only hope their next feature is a little more developed in the story department.

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