It’s a film with very, very limited appeal

Whitewash is the first full-length film from Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais.  Because he is not that experienced with writing and directing, I feel I should be gentle with this review, as I do not want to discourage Emanuel—he shows some definite promise with this film.   Whitewash has many qualities that show he’s on the right track with his career and he should definitely keep working at improving his craft.  The problem, however, is that the movie has very, very, very limited appeal and I cannot see it being a commercial success.

The film stars the familiar actor, Thomas Hayden Church and it was quite the coup getting him for this project.  You’ll probably know him from such TV shows as Ned and Stacy and Wings but he also has been in quite a few films—including the critically acclaimed Sideways.

Directed by
Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais
Thomas Haden Church, Anie Pascale, Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais
Release Date
2 May 2014
Martin’s Grade: C

The story is set in Canada and most everyone, other than Church’s character, speaks French.  It begins with him driving his snow plow down the road during a bad storm and running over a guy who is standing in the road!  Inexplicably, instead of contacting the police, since it appears to be just an accident, he buries the body in the wilderness.  Soon after this, he wrecks his plow and is stuck—and it might just be because he’s drunk…though you really aren’t sure.  Why he doesn’t just go for help is difficult to fathom initially and slowly during the course of the film you realize that there’s more to the story.

This film is told through a very familiar method in recent years—telling the story out of sequence.  It seems like the story was chopped up and pieces of the beginning middle and end are all mixed together.  I have liked this style in some films, though I must say that perhaps this style is a bit overused and it makes the film a bit confusing.  This is not the only reason that I think that the film is for a very select audience.  I say this also because Church is pretty much THE star of the film and he is in all the scenes in the film.  Much of the time, he’s all alone and talks to himself while hiding out in the woods—and this sort of film is certainly not one to appeal to anyone wanting action or traditional story telling.  Additionally, he’s not a particularly sympathetic character in the film—further lessening the film’s appeal.  Now none of this is to say it’s a bad film—it isn’t.  It is unique and may appeal to some people who feel like they’ve seen it all and want something different.  As for me, I respect the project—but I also didn’t particularly enjoy it nor could I see myself recommending it to friends.  Instead, I say let’s see what else Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais can do in the future, as his directing style seems solid—I just think the story was one that doesn’t have widespread appeal.

A very curious film, that’s for sure and I can easily say that I’ve never seen anything like it.  Considering that I’ve written over 16,000 reviews (mostly on IMDb), this is saying a lot.

Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer