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88

Year: 2014
Production Co: Wango Films
Director: April Mullen
Writer: April Mullen/Tim Doiron
Cast: Katharine Isabelle, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Ironside

This film does a pretty good job of making anti-heroine Gwen (Katherine Isabelle) a distinctive character. You can never quite get a handle on her and she might have an interesting, slightly psychotic edge, especially during the closing credits when we pan in on her plaintive, staring blue eyes at a barely perceptible pace.

The problem is, we never get a real handle on the rest of the movie either as we jump between two different stories about Gwen.

In one she's a nervy, skittish woman on the run after apparently committing some horrible crime. She's trying to stay one step ahead of mobster Cyrus (Christopher Lloyd), doesn't know what to tell the cops who are closing in, and teams up with the wisecracking Ty to take the bad guys down, even though she has no idea who he is and whether she can trust him.

The other Gwen we keep jumping back to is a fierce and fiery stripper who works for Cyrus. Apparently on a mission of vengeance against him after he killed her beloved boyfriend, Gwen rages all over the town and panhandle where the story's set, wielding guns and he sneer in equal measure to get to the bottom of things.

88 does something interesting with the structure by finally showing us the pivot where Gwen apparently loses her mind and turns in the last few frames, but little else that happens is quite strong or memorable enough to hold up such an interesting narrative framework.

Star Katharine Isabelle – of Ginger Snaps fame – isn't Oscar material and feels a bit too much like a little girl playing dress ups a few times, but you can see her throwing everything she has into it.

How name actors like Lloyd and Michael Ironside as the town sheriff got involved in a movie this small scale is a mystery. Maybe some distributor bought it promising big things but then dumped it on DVD.

But it should also be considered in the debate always going on (especially as I write this review when everyone's complaining about what a white, male year it was at the Oscars in 2015) about films made by women. Few female directors make stuff as ballsy and violent as this.

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