Sometimes, you go into a movie not expecting much. You expect it to be bad. This is common when a film appears to be low budget and lacks any recognizable names. When there’s no money and no celebrity, you never know what you’re going to get, so I find it is better to lower expectations. I’ve done this frequently since I started reviewing movies and it has paid off time and time again. Many of my favourite films fit into that category and they are fantastic. This is what happened with Double Life. I was pleasantly surprised while watching the movie.
Double Life gets everything right given what they had to work with. The story is simple – A man dies under mysterious circumstances and his widow and mistress meet at this grave, realizing that they may know something about what happened if they work together. The writers – Michael Hurst and Chris Sivertson – wrote something special. This is the type of script that with a Hollywood blockbuster budget, a known director, and recognizable, star-powered names could have been one of the biggest films of the year. That isn’t to knock the wonderful film that was put together, I just think that it’s important to realize that the script had a lot of room to grow and that’s a real credit to the writers behind it.
The film was shot in Vancouver but was one of those typical this isn’t Canada films. That doesn’t mean that you don’t get to enjoy some beautiful shots of the city, particularly at the start of the film. The rest of the film suffers from some weird cinematography at times and this is where it lost marks with me. Director Martin Wood has an impressive resume under his belt, but it is predominantly television and Christmas movies. In fact, he has worked on a lot of my favourite SciFi television over the years. That doesn’t translate well to shooting a thriller… at least it didn’t in this case. There are common elements in most thrillers that make the viewer feel on edge and this film definitely lacks that sense of urgency in its shots. It’s not poorly put together, it’s just that the style was detrimental to the idea that this was a thriller.
The weak performance in that area was, however, compensated for by the two leadings actors. Javicia Leslie and Pascale Hutton were absolutely brilliant as Jo and Sharon. While both women have had some claim to fame – Leslie in Batwoman and God Friended Me and Hutton in Arctic Air and When Calls the Heart – neither of them are well known and recognized names. It turns out, however, that they are both fantastic actors. Leslie, in particularly, steals the show and carries the film on her shoulders in a way that is hard to describe. I’ve become a fan of hers and I’ll be seeking out her films in the future. She absolutely kicks ass in the film, but I also really love the relationship that forms between Jo and Sharon. The idea of a woman befriending her dead husband’s mistress in order to figure out who murdered him is very interesting, and both women bring everything to their characters, truly bringing them to life. This might be where Wood deserves some credit, depending on how much direction he provided to these women.
This film also does a great job of reminding us that low budget (and I can only assume it was a low budget film) doesn’t mean cheap. Everything is well put together and it feels reasonably well polished. Honestly, with a bit more polish and better shooting in a few of the scenes, this could have easily been a 4 or maybe even a 4.5-star film. Pay particular attention near the end of the film to the warehouse scenes… I was not a fan of the camera work and editing here… something, and I can’t quite say what it was, but something felt off. I will say, however, that we need to go back to the script once again and talk about how great the story was. Taking two women who should hate each other and letting them naturally build a relationship while going through the worst moments of their lives gave the film a real dramatic twist that I wasn’t expecting and it did a lot to improve the overall quality of storytelling. Again, props to Hurst and Sivertson for writing something so special.
At the end of the day, this film was well done. I miss when rentals had variable pricing and could range between $3.99 and $6.99. I wouldn’t see this in theatres and I don’t think that it is a $6.99 rental… but I could definitely see renting this for $3.99 if I was looking for something to watch. I think it’s definitely worth adding to your wish list to watch for it as a $0.99 rental or checking it out if you see it on streaming. Taking a thriller and telling the story as a friendship builds was definitely an interesting approach.
Double Life was released in Theatres and on Digital on May 5, and will be on Demand on May 19.
Movie title: Double Life
Movie description: A grieving widow learns from her late husband’s mistress that his death was no accident. The two women will form an unlikely alliance to uncover the truth behind his murder and unmask the man they both loved.
Date published: 2023-05-05
Director(s): Martin Wood
Actor(s): Javicia Leslie, Pascale Hutton, John Cassini, Vincent Gale, Aaron Douglas, Niall Matter, Carmen Moore, William MacDonald, Alex Stines
White Knuckle Flick