Dir: Camelia Frieberg. Canada. 2006. 98mins.

The directingdebut of producer Camelia Frieberg, AStone's Throw is a family drama underscored with hot button social issues.Adroitly crafted and well observed, the film shows a nascent talent behind thelens. However, the familiarity of the yarn and the absence of marqueeperformers present an uphill struggle to secure theatrical sales.

The film is setin an old Nova Scotia mining town now populated in equal parts by new agers anda working class tied to a recently established paint factory. The two groupscoexist uneasily.

Olivia Walker(MacLellan) is a single mother with two kids, a trust fund and an ex-husband whoworks at the new plant. The arrival of her prodigal brother Jack (Holden-Reid),a globetrotting photojournalist with a portfolio full of images from every typeof war zone, kicks off the action.

With such a by-the-numbersset-up, it's to the credit of Frieberg and co-writer Garfield Miller that thetwists are neither predictable nor implausible. Jack says he isn't interested inthe factory's safety standards and instead reveals that he's suffering from adegenerative eye disease. It's possibly genetic and could well affect hisnephew Thomas (Webber).

Thomas views hisuncle as a paragon and it doesn't require much encouragement to get him to dothe sort of investigative work that's been the hallmark of Jack's career. The storythen shifts gears to uncover what really brought Jack to town.

Visually Friebergdemonstrates a fluid, unfussy style. Heat emanates from the screen despite anotherwise bleak environment and the quality of intimacy she develops among the castallows the camera to get up close and personal without forcing the point. Onesenses she picked up good work habits from working with Atom Egoyan and JeremyPodeswa and developed her own glossary of images.

The narrativedoesn't have the same degree of grace. The story lacks an easy through line andsome of the dialogue makes points with a bluntness generally reserved forhardboiled detective work. The film is overwritten and has too much material fora single film.

In a generallyfirst rate cast, Holden-Reid emerges as more than simply the story's emotionalglue. He has natural charm that goes a long way to smooth over the rough spotsin a character that lists toward the heart of darkness.

Despite itspedigree look, A Stone's Throw islikely to find itself consigned to the small screen. Though it meanders inpurposeful fashion, ultimately it pays off with a strong, emotionallycompelling conclusion.

Production companies
Palpable Productions (Can)
Acuity Films (Can)

International sales
Smooth Stone

(1) 902 422 2539

Canadian distributor

Kelly Bray
Camelia Frieberg

Camelia Frieberg

Camelia Frieberg
Garfield Miller

Christopher Ball

Main cast
Kris Holden-Ried
Kathryn MacLellan
Lisa Ray
Hugh Thompson
Aaron Webber