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Dull Canadian books make for dull Canadian movies

Former Toronto Star book critic Philip Marchand was transferred to the paper’s film beat almost five months ago, and based on the preponderance of negative reviews he’s written since then, one might assume he’s eager to have his old job back. But his latest review, of the film Emotional Arithmetic, calls that assumption into question. Here’s the opening lines:

A piece of advice for Canadian filmmakers “ don’t make movies out of dreary CanLit novels. They’re easy enough to spot.

The late Matt Cohen’s 1990 novel, Emotional Arithmetic, was full of people haunted by memories of the Holocaust, and in Canadian fiction that’s a sure tip-off we’re in for plenty of wintry blasts from the intellectual fog machine.

And here’s the last line:

As for the movie’s own recipe, it consists of pungent slices of tragic European history, reflected in the troubled faces of the characters who drift around the professor’s farmhouse, marinated and then simmered in a sauce of sombre piano chords and yearning violins. Eat it if you have the taste for it.

Poor guy. Caught between two worlds, both of them filled with disappointments.