Retro Review: Turning Paige

Snow falls on a family as it struggles to overcome a hidden and tormented past. Don’t all families have struggles and skeletons in the closet?

“Turning Paige” stars rising starlet Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps) as the film’s title character Paige. Paige has had to absorb some new responsibilities in her life after the death of her mother.

Paige’s deepest passion is her writing. Her father (Nicholas Campbell of TV’s DaVinci’s Inquest) is having his share of problems too.

The secrets buried within the family are reawakened when Paige’s older brother, Trevor (Phillip Dewilde) returns. Trevor shakes the foundation of the family forever.

“Turning Paige” covers a lot of previously seen areas in motion pictures. The struggling family unit crippled by its own skeletons is nothing very new. The father who is a drunk and is watching his family slip away is something I have seen many a time. Or even the dreaming teenage girl who wants to escape her world for bigger and brighter things. The hardest element of “Turning Paige” is that it’s just so hard to watch at times.

For me it was that I was never sure for a moment if I could watch every single frame of the film. The thing that drove me to watch the whole film was the performance by Katharine Isabelle because she is a magnet for celluloid. This young woman oozes raw talent and acts way beyond her young vibrant age.

I loved her performance and how she really seemed to meld well with the struggling persona of Paige. The problem was that she out-acted everyone around her and made me realize how many times I had seen other films and specials like this plot before.

I enjoyed how the writers brought in Paige’s teacher to clarify her writing and how the teacher would ask Paige about the events in the writing and how they related to her real-life. Paige would just exclaim, “It’s all made-up” when as an audience member you know that the writing does in fact accent some of her struggles. For me the most memorable scenes were the ones between Paige and her teacher.

In other scenes between Paige and the other cast members where Paige was an emotional wreck made me squirm in my seat. When she would act with raw emotion it seems like the snowy celluloid world around her dissolved into a puddle at her feet. I almost felt helpless and abused by the experience.

The best way I can describe the elements tangled within “Turning Paige” is an “after-school special” overshadowed by a wondrous new upstart. In 2001, CTV released a film called “Lucky Girl” where another young starlet named Elisha Cuthbert (who now stars in Fox’s “24”) did exactly what Katharine Isabelle does in this film.

Cuthbert was so convincing in “Lucky Girl” that the actors around her were pale in comparison. I have to praise Isabelle for doing the over-shadowing in “Turning Paige” but when something is that raw and real it makes you look at what is around the performance.

Another example of this was in last year’s “Mulholland Drive” where the two lead actresses took over the film and allowed audiences to see the obvious flaws around them.

I loved the showcase performance housed within this snowy drama even if I couldn’t handle some of its reality. I enjoyed how the seasons influenced some of the emotions being felt by the cast. But I just couldn’t overcome that I had seen these elements before.

(3 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

One thought on “Retro Review: Turning Paige

  1. So many articles about the film… But NO DVD releases!! People put millions of $ in stupid borring film productions, but they can’t even release one of the greatest Canadian film with the most amazing performances by Canadian actors.
    (@Katharine Isabelle: Here’s to another great decade! We’re proud of ya Katie!!!!!)

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