Directed by Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais
Written by Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais and Marc Tulin
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. No good deed goes unpunished. These and plenty other old adages are proven true in Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais’ Canadian thriller Whitewash. A bare-bones cast, fronted by Thomas Haden Church, brings to life a story that is always proving we don’t exactly know as much as we think we do.
Whitewash begins with Bruce Landry (Church) accidentally running over a seemingly random pedestrian with his little snowcat plow in the middle of the night. With no witnesses around, Bruce gathers up the body and manages to stash it in an out-of-the-way place that will at least give him some time to get his thoughts together and may help him avoid the entire fallout from the accident. Unfortunately, it isn’t long before he has his plow stuck in the woods and his dilemma starts to get deeper as the snow piles up around him.
From this point, Whitewash plays out both forward and backward. We see Bruce trying to deal with his current situation. A dead body in the woods, a snowplow completely stuck seemingly miles from anywhere. And at the same time the movie goes back, showing us that the random person hit in the street might not have been that random after all. It’s a very effective storytelling technique although every once in a while you might find yourself momentarily thinking you’re in the present time, when actually it’s a flashback, but overall it’s used very nicely to tell the story that is unfolding while also telling the story that led up to the events that are currently happening.
The movie starts and ends with the performance of Church. It’s nearly a one-man show, with just a few other actors thrown into the mix. The only other character with any real impact on the story is Paul Blackburn (played by Marc Labrèche). As you’ll come to see, Paul is a cross that Bruce unintentionally finds himself bearing. And the weight of this cross is indeed substantial. Church does a fine job portraying a man trying to hold on to his sanity while everything in his life comes crashing down.
Although there isn’t a ton of action after the initial death, Whitewash creates a decent amount of thriller tension, but certainly the most intriguing aspect of the movie is how Bruce bears the weight of this death… this murder. How would the average man respond to mowing down a man in the road with no one around to see him? It’s a character study as much as it is a thriller, and after appearing to be quite simple initially, Bruce does show some real depth as we get a better look at him.
Whitewash is a unique story that touches on guilt, anger and loss. It’s not going to blow your doors off or give you any real shocks or scares. It’s a thriller with a nice, concise story that will draw you in. If you need a break from blood and gore and want something with a little substance, this would not be a bad choice.
3 1/2 out of 5