A small budget, Canadian indie comedy, Things to Do, from director Ted Bezaire is a funny and sometimes moving look at a quarter-life crisis.
Adam (Michael Stasko) is forced to take time off from work after an incident leaves him in a state of mind that makes it unfeasible for him to continue. He returns to his childhood home, and town, in an attempt to gather himself to return to the his big city life and career. Content to live in isolation, a chance meeting at the grocery store reunites him with a childhood friend, the exuberant Mac (Daniel Wilson). Mac helps to reinvigorate Adam as the pair attempt to cross off as many fun things as possible from an adolescent “To Do List”.
Things to Do deals with a lot of themes and problems that young men are confronted with: ennui, homesickness, existentialist crises, depression and nostalgia for adolescence. It also deals with these issues in a quietly funny and unassuming manner. There is no class at school or university to tell you how to deal with distant parents who you have little connection with now that you are grown up. Adam and his parents still have a loving bond but it is clearly stretched when he returns home to find that he has little in common with them. The feeling of displacement is the driving force in the film; it causes Adam to delve back in to his childhood.
The boxcar that Adam and Mac build represents the ultimate symbol of childhood excitement and, as with the model aeroplane, is a symbol of Adam using the past to rebuild his present and future. The fact that both of these projects fail spectacularly is also relevant. There are no grand sweeping Hollywood arcs of despair and redemption here. Like real life everything plays on a much smaller scale.This means that it is not the final product that matters, Adam won’t be any happier if his model plane soars perfectly through the air, it is the experience of the journey that is the most rewarding and beneficial factor.
Similarly it is the journey that we take with Adam that makes Things To Do an enjoyable experience. There is no extravagant pay-off. Instead the quiet revelations, such as the way the alluded to “incident” is woven in to the narrative at critical moments, bump the audience along. The lack of a jarring emotional bombardment leaves room to breath and time to reflect on the problems the characters face. This highlights one of the problems of the film: we aren’t exposed to anyones problems apart from Adam’s, but such an introspective movie probably does demand such a viewpoint.
In all, Things To Do appears at first to be casual indie fare but builds to be an affecting piece that, thanks to the quality performance of Michael Stasko, confronts the problems of a generation that can, at times, feel lost at sea in the real world.
Director: Ted Bezaire
Running Time: 87 mins
Special Features: None.