Take one part Twin Peaks, mix with one part Roman Polanski and you have Good Neighbours. It’s a dark comedy set in an apartment building in Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce that features a murder, which star Jay Baruchel calls “if not the goriest, then the most uncomfortable death scene in any movie this year.”
The events leading up to the grisly, but darkly amusing incident involve three young Montrealers, the wheelchair bound Spencer (Scott Speedman), cat lover Louise (Emily Hampshire) and Victor, an earnest school teacher played by Baruchel. As their lives become entwined it becomes difficult for them — and the audience — to know who to trust.
“It will be polarizing,” says Baruchel, who was last seen starring opposite Nicolas Cage in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, “but I think this movie really gets under your skin.”
It’s also the kind of movie that probably wouldn’t easily find funding in Hollywood.
“The main reason this would never get made stateside is that it leaves too much up to the audience,” says Baruchel. “The studios don’t like that. They like to kind of give you a road map and let you know when you are supposed to be sad or happy and who you are meant to root for. Director Jacob Tierney says his favourite thing when talking to people after screenings is what they project on it. Some people will say that my character is so lovely and sympathetic and others think he’s really creepy. Your life will inform how you see our movie, I think.
“If I was to sum up the whole movie, and specifically my character it would be ‘Good depends on context.’ I really think this movie is nothing if not a grey area. It’s still going to be rewarding but there is this really uncomfortable sense of humour that permeates the whole thing. Jacob wants people to be on edge from beginning to end.”
One person, however, that Baruchel doesn’t want the movie to rattle is his mother. “There is a reason my mother is not coming to the movie (premier) tonight. I said ‘You can watch the movie just not beside me.’”
Canuck pride sidebar
“I’m very grateful for the career I’ve had in the states. It has afforded my mother, my sister and I lives we otherwise never would have had,” says Baruchel. “That being said … by and large the things I have been most proud of have all been here.”