TIFF 2018: Kingsway – This Comedy Gets Dark

Colleen Rennison and Jeff Gladstone in Kingsway. Courtesy of Carkner Films Inc.

For a romantic comedy, Kingsway certainly does get funny at times but the film’s content delves into dark comedy territory.

After semiotics professor Matt Horvat (Jeff Gladstone) spots his wife’s motorcycle at a hotel, he rushes to tell his car mechanic sister, Jess Horvat (Camille Sullivan), and mother, Marion Horvat (Gabrielle Rose).  The two of them immediately jump to the conclusion that Jeff’s wife, Lori (Colleen Rennison), must be having an affair.  Whether she is or not, the film has a lot of fun on the path towards the conclusion some ninety minutes later.

It’s while they are celebrating Marion’s birthday in which Lori faces interrogation by her in-laws.  Her husband is blind to the signs of her affair even as Lori covers for it when a story that blows up in her face later on.  This should serve as a warning:  always make sure that your story checks out!  Unfortunately for Lori, they found out she was lying because of course she was.  As if everything couldn’t be bad enough Lori is pregnant.  Whose child is it?  Is it Matt’s or is it the mysterious man?  Upon learning this new information, Jess explodes to the point in which she chokes Lori.  Matt isn’t in the right state of mind and to escape the hell that he’s living in, he tries to kill himself.

While Jeff is blind to his wife’s affair, Jess is blind to her supervisor, Megan (Agam Darshi), flirting with her.  It’s one of those will they or won’t they subplots nobody expected.  Yet here we are wondering if Jess will actually notice and respond.

It’s only during the final act in which things appear to get out of hand.  Will our unhappy couple come to a happy ending?  Or will they stay separated?  It’s fun to watch Jess, Marion, and Lori’s mom, Carol (Jillian Fargey), spying on the duo as they break from their concert.

The premise alone shows a lot of potential for the humor in the situation.  A guy spots his wife’s motocycle at a hotel so what could possibly go wrong?  The film follows the rule of comedy so anything that can go wrong most definitely will.  Even though the film does get dark with themes of suicide, writer/director Bruce Sweeney handles the material carefully.

It’s to Sweeney’s credit that they get this material right.  Even for a comedy like Kingsway, suicide isn’t a laughing matter and ought to be treated with care.  The film shows how the family responds to Matt’s attempt on his life.  The film could have treated it like a joke but no, we see how Jess visits Matt’s therapist, Sara (Jennifer McLean), to discuss her feelings.

Kingsway is a lot of fun to watch as everyone comes to terms with where they are in life.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER:  Bruce Sweeney
CAST:  Camille Sullivan, Jeff Gladstone, Gabrielle Rose, Colleen Rennison, Paul Skrudland, Jillian Fargey, Jennifer McLean, Agam Darshi, Kevin McNulty

Kingsway holds its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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