High Life (2009)

(On DVD, December 2011) Few plot points are predictable in this oddball Canadian crime comedy/drama: Mis-marketed as a heist thriller on the DVD cover, High Life is a broad look at four young men planning a bank heist in the wild woolly days of 1983 where ATMs were still considered a novelty.  Three of them have done time and all of them are serious drug addicts –naturally, things don’t go as planned.  Darkly funny and lightly dramatic, High Life  still manages to do much with little, partially due to a script that’s above the norm for low-budget film.  Timothy Oliphant headlines the piece but it’s Lee MacDougals’ witty script and Gary Yates’ fast-paced direction that make the film go by even faster.  It’s reminiscent of other well-written crime comedies without being derivative, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome even at less than 80 minutes.  The last half-hour becomes steadily more unpredictable, and not even the violent death of a few characters is enough to erase a generally good impression.  High Life isn’t exactly focused, but it’s interesting throughout, and that’s already quite a feat.  The DVD presents a few short interviews and a quick making-of featurette, but don’t expect too many revelations.

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