dir. Burns, Sinclair
Fri May 31
Waydowntown begins with a fantasy. The main character, Tom (Fab Filippo), a 20-something, recent college grad, imagines completely lifting the downtown section of Calgary out of the landscape. He watches as it hovers above earth. This fantasy seems possible to him because the network of buildings downtown, where he works, is made up completely of tunnels, which lead to the city's stores, office buildings, cafeterias, and parking garages. Since he can't enact the elevating idea, Tom instead decides to rope four of his friends/coworkers into a contest; the person who is able to go the longest without entering the outside world wins $10,000.
This enclosed system of buildings, in which they live and work, is a metaphor for the corporate machine. Both are stifling and suffocating. And, as is true within the corporate world, the four people in on the pact hate their occupations, feel trapped, and keep repeating the pattern in the name of money. Though this bet is an interesting premise, the movie relies too much on the cliché idea that corporate America will drive people crazy, and many of the characters are one-dimensional archetypes of The System.
For example, due to the monotony of his job, Tom's officemate is slowly going crazy. He psychotically staples to his chest pieces of paper that have corporate mantras printed on them. Likewise, the boss and founder of the company is an old white guy and, because he is afforded every privilege in the world, becomes a kleptomaniac. Tom alone is, very unbelievably, the only person who possesses the perspective to see that the corporation is killing the people around him.
The good parts of the film are watching the people go crazy due to their imprisonment within the buildings downtown. Tom begins seeing piranhas eating his body, and Sandra (Marya Delver) starts maniacally sniffing magazine perfume samples. The movie would have been a lot less preachy and more exciting had they let the characters develop through their own psychoses Clearly, corporate domination is bad, but how often do we get to watch piranhas attacking people in cars?