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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 09.29.14] Canada thriller romance

Canadian director Ruba Nadda is best known for her affecting romances but over the last few years, she's been throwing the net out further and for her latest, Nadda continues to expand her horizons by directing another thriller.

October Gale reunites Nadda with Patricia Clarkson, here playing Helen Matthews, a recently widowed doctor. In an effort to leave the memory of her dead husband behind, Helen decides to take a trip up to her cottage. It's a little early in the season and her son is concerned she's going up there by herself but she's determined to do this on her own. Things are going well until a few nights in a stranger (Scott Speedman) comes crawling into her home, leaving behind him a trail of blood from a gunshot wound.

She treats the stranger and then watches over him with a gun until he finally wakes up. Will is on the run from someone but he refuses to give Helen any information and rather stupidly, the doctor agrees that he can stay until he's feeling better and by the time that happens, a killer storm is already brewing and a couple of bad men are on their way to make life a whole lot more difficult for the pair.

Truth is that October Gale shouldn't work. Nadda's characters, particularly Helen, make some pretty gruesome errors in judgement. True, she's a doctor bound by the Hippocratic Oath and all, but wouldn't common sense tell you that for your own safety, it's probably best leave the stranger alone? Especially with a storm rolling in and no cell phone signal?

To keep the story moving she helps him, which leads to a number of other silly decisions that all compound into a rather entertaining final showdown between Helen and Tom (Tim Roth) with the pair of them, but particularly Roth, chewing the scenery in great style.

The entire thing is very implausible but against all expectation October Gale is really fun to watch. Most of the appeal is the palpable chemistry between Clarkson and Speedman. From the moment she first sees him on her floor and cuts his shirt open to tend the wound there's a feeling that this is going to take a turn for the romantic and though it is more of a red herring than anything else, that romantic possibility hangs heavy through much of the movie.

Those looking for a good thriller will likely be disappointed by the tameness of October Gale since it plays very lightly with the thriller aspects of the story but as a well made bit of entertainment with an unexpected, but very welcome, romantic edge, October Gale does not disappoint.

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