19 April 2018



'My first child died inside of me...'

'How do you stay tough through all of this shit...?'

'I always feel like a trapped animal, out here in the winter snow.'

'If you're better than this place, then why is this place so hard?'

'When I was a kid, I thought that she (Mom) was, like, real tall and stuff and now she's just so tiny.'

I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone who needs cheering up or who's on Suicide Watch or anything like that, but if you're in a relatively good place in your life and you don't object to seeing how other people overcome the challenges in their own daily whatsits, then by all means pull up a pew and have a butchers'. A butcher's what, you ask? Well, I don't know. It's rhyming slang, innit?

I'm reliably informed by my Harry Potter-obsessed offspring that the lead actress Shirley Henderson used to be Moaning Myrtle in a past life. Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter films, that is, a small role in which she played a wee ghost girl who haunted the bathrooms of Hogwarts and presumably got to watch the likes of Harry Potter and Ron Weasley taking a shower or a bath. Shudder. God between us and all harm and all that. I cannae think of anything sadder...

In NEVER STEADY, NEVER STILL, Shirley Henderson gets to be extremely miserable again, only this time she's got good reason for so being. I'm not saying that being killed by Tom Riddle's/Voldemort's Basilisk isn't a good reason for being down in the dumps, but come on, that was a film. This is real life, or at least a film about real life.

Shirley plays Judy, a youngish woman living in a remote British Columbian community with her husband and son and Grizzly the dog. She's also living with early-onset Parkinson's Disease, the disease that causes her to tremble constantly and drop things and which is referred to in the somewhat clunky title. Due to her condition, Judy is never able to be either steady or still.

Her husband is a giant bearded bear of a man called Ed, who looks old enough to be her grandfather. I thought that when Shirley Henderson played Moaning Myrtle, she was just a child like the rest of the cast. My kids assure me that she was a bit older than the rest of the cast, which is good, because otherwise I'd never be able to see her as the mother of an eighteen-year-old son and the wife of an old man. Which is the case in the film, see?

 (PS, I've just googled Shirley Henderson and it turns out that not only is she currently fifty-two, but also that she was thirty-five at the time she did the Harry Potter films...! Also, I totally forgot to mention that Shirley Henderson also plays Jude, one of Bridget Jones's three best friends, in the three Bridget Jones movies, the latest of which- but hopefully not the last- came out last year.)

Anyway, Judy struggles bravely with her infliction, bringing Ed cups of tea while he works in their little mill and attending a support group for Parkinson's sufferers in the town. Some of the game old gals who attend the group are a delight to watch. They firmly refuse to let this disease ruin their sense of humour or their ability to cuss up a storm, and I say good on 'em because they're an inspiration down to the last woman.

Judy worries when her son Jamie goes to work on an oil rig in Alberta. This is a dangerous job but Dad Ed thinks it'll be the making of him. Toughen the kid up a bit. Dads always say that, lol, while the mothers mollycoddle and pamper and wrap the little tykes in cotton wool.

Off Jamie goes, anyway, to discover that working on a drilling crew is every bit as harsh
and lonely as it sounds. He gets bullied by a mouthy co-worker, flirts with drug-taking because everybody does it out there, and has what we assume is his first sexual experience with a woman. The world's most unromantic and functional blowjob takes place in a grotty bathroom and if Jamie feels dirty and sleazy after it, it's nothing compared to how the viewers feel, lol.

Something happens then to rock the already shaky little family to its foundations. In a shocking twist of fate, Ed dies. This isn't really a spoiler, as it happens early on in the film and the rest of the film sees everyone dealing with the aftermath.

Judy is left to cope with her bereavement, the house (what's she living on? She can't work on the family mill, can she?) and her disease all on her own. It's more difficult than she ever imagined. I was actually glad when the police officer told her to seriously rethink her decision to drive the family car to the grocery store, and glad also when Judy started getting her groceries delivered to the house instead. A much safer option for all concerned...!

The focus switches to Jamie for a bit as he flirts with Kaly, the pretty grocery store assistant and delivery girl. In a surprising twist, he reveals to Kaly his bi-curious feelings about his friend Danny. Kaly is about to become a teenage mother, probably a single mother to boot as her boyfriend has done a legger out of fear. Will anything happen between Jamie and Kaly, the two troubled teens? They both certainly have issues.

Meanwhile, Judy is having problems with her disease and wondering if, when people look at her, do they see Judy the woman, Judy the person, or just the disease? The Canadian landscape, with its snow and ice, is as unforgiving as her infliction and makes it hard for Judy to get about. She toys with the idea of suicide and has to come to grips with the notion that her disease might be progressing. The good news just keeps on coming, huh?

The bit where Jamie has to lift his Mum out of the bath because she can't move of her own accord is heartbreaking. She utters the words that every parent who ever finds themselves depending on their child for their care probably says: 'This isn't how it's supposed to be. I should be taking care of you.'

If nothing else, this film will make us be grateful that, whatever our problems may be, at least we can get about under our own steam. And there's always someone worse off than we are. I remember reading once that a person will always choose to keep their own problems, however gnarly, rather than swap them for someone else's. How true that is.

NEVER STEADY, NEVER STILL comes to cinemas tomorrow, Friday the 20th of April.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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