Hit 'n Strum is a charming Vancouver-shot feature
Starring Kirk Caouette and Michelle Harrison. Rating unavailable. Opens Friday, March 8, at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas
The title of this goodhearted, beautifully shot local feature, Hit ’n Strum, is a play on the hit-and-run incident with which it begins. And there’s some attempt to tie it to the main characters, a rigid financial type and a homeless musician who meets the business end of her Beemer.
That percussive intro is the biggest hint that first-time writer, director, and star Kirk Caouette spent many years as a stuntman in action movies. The only chase scenes here, though, involve the harried quest of our hitter, a striver named Stephanie (Michelle Harrison), to improve the hittee (an extra-gaunt Caouette), a bearded busker called Mike.
If you’re thinking Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová in Once, you’re not far off—minus the chemistry and quirky insights. Performing his own tunes, the shaggy-haired filmmaker more strongly resembles Keith Carradine singing “I’m Easy” in Nashville, except the town is very much Vancouver and these songs could all be called “Difficult Me”. They’re melodious enough but sound less like crafted compositions than angry, two-chord philosophy lessons.
Mike has abandonment issues, explaining his initial refusal to let Stephanie lure him away from his mattress under the Georgia Viaduct. Sadly, her idea of mentorship consists only of dumb moves. In a funny scene with John Mann as an eager music-shop salesman, she blows almost four grand on a guitar similar to the one he already plays. (Nice product placement, Larrivée!)
She then lays out more time and money trying to get him into a recording industry that, frankly, doesn’t exist anymore.
Okay, maybe Ms. Big Shot doesn’t know that. But what does she know? In a tale ostensibly about the across-the-tracks transformation of two unlikely characters, Caouette forgot to give one of them a personality. Mike does hand Stephanie a drum, but he beats it in the end.
Mar 10, 2013 at 10:30am
I'm glad you mentioned Once...because that's exactly what I thought of. The cinematography was beautiful and there are some nice moments but the story was so implausible that I found myself getting pulled from the movie. At the Q&A afterward, Caoutte made a comment about Vancouver people not going to see Vancouver shot movies. The real reason, I think, is because the stories aren't strong enough. I didn't care about either of the two characters. To come back to Once, the reason that movie worked is because it was plausible that these two people's worlds could be intertwined. Stakes are set up for the characters. There's tension. We root for them. Those things are missing here. On the other hand, I really liked a lot of the music that was played. So, it was great to see out city in all it's beauty. For me, the story wasn't strong enough. Other people in the theatre seemed to really enjoy it though.
Mar 11, 2013 at 12:05pm
I really enjoyed watching Hit n' Strum on Saturday night. The theatre at the 5th Ave. Cinema was sold out and most of the cast and crew of the indie film were in attandance. The First Weekend Club did a great job of organizing the screening and after party where Kirk performed his orginal music from the film with the other cast members.
I think that we should applaud Kirk and his producing team for pulling off the production of this feature.
Mar 16, 2013 at 11:27pm
This movie is a love letter to Vancouver- so nice to see the city playing itself for a change. Perhaps I am biased as a female lawyer, but I identified with Stephanie's story and enjoyed the story of her intersection with a different and less transactional element of humanity. Mike was well played, and the music while simple was heartfelt. Well worth seeing, even if some elements were implausible. I really liked the movie, particularly the platonic relationship between the characters and the lack of any fairy tale resolution. Kudos to the author/actor/director for a job well done.
Apr 7, 2013 at 11:56pm
I totally bought into the fairytale thing here. I'm not usually a sucker for this kind of film but I found myself as one of the dozens of people in the audience wiping tears out of my eyes in the final ten minutes. This clunky little film snuck up on me and kicked me in the gut. I don't remember the last film that did that to me. Well done.