Contemporary World Cinema | 2016 | 110 minutes
Stranger Says: The feature debut of director Kevan Funk, Hello Destroyer is set in Prince George, Canada, but could be in any blue-collar town of the United States. Football could sub in for the sport the film centers on, hockey. Tyson Burr (Jared Abrahamson), a young hockey player, quiet and introspective off the ice, becomes a ball of fury on it, goaded into aggression by his coaches, hazed by his teammates, and enveloped by toxic masculinity at every turn in his life. It doesn’t really suit him, but when the carefully curated rage turns near deadly on the ice, he is shunned by everyone in his life. Hello Destroyer won numerous Canadian film awards and you can see why: Benjamin Loeb’s beautiful cinematography, the nuanced acting, and a fully realized vision by Funk—but it’s beset by a glacial pace and an oppressive, dismal outlook. (TRICIA ROMANO)
SIFF Says:Win or lose, leave your blood on the ice. Young Tyson Burr (Jared Abrahamson, Fear the Walking Dead) knows only hockey. As one of the newest members of the minor-league outfit the Prince George Warriors, this fourth-line brawler is willing to do whatever it takes to make his mark, taking the team’s hazing rituals in stride and their coach’s insistence on on-the-ice aggression to heart. But when Tyson makes a mid-game illegal body check and critically injures an opponent, he is suspended from the game. Then the season. Then the team. As the league figures out what to do with him and the lawsuit surrounding his split-second mistake, he moves back in with his parents and finds work in a slaughterhouse. Tyson shrinks before the real world, cast out into a society for which he hasn’t prepared; not even drunken nights out on the town or the occasional bear-league game can alter his downward trajectory. In the purgatorial, frozen landscape of northern British Columbia, there is no escape from the deafening silence. Kevan Funk’s debut feature Hello Destroyer is a brilliant, clear-eyed, and crushing critique of institutionalized violence, the social construct that is masculinity, and the commodification of bodies, and is one of the strongest Canadian films of the year.
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