In this engrossing survival thriller set during the Japanese invasion of Singapore in 1942, a stranded Australian airman and a Chinese resistance fighter band together to fight their way out of a forbidding jungle wilderness.

Discovery

Canopy

Aaron Wilson

Singapore, February 9, 1942. The Japanese invasion is underway. Jim (Khan Chittenden), an Australian airman, wakes up dangling from a tree by his parachute strings, somewhere in the middle of a vast wilderness overrun by hostile forces. Jim must fend for himself — until he literally runs into a Singapore-Chinese resistance fighter, Seng (Mo Tzu-Yi), who has also been injured and is also lost. The men realize that their only hope of surviving lies with each other.

Aaron Wilson's Canopy is an extraordinary cinematic experience. There is no exposition, no politics, no conventional character development. Just these two men, this jungle, and this desperate struggle to make it through, resulting in a film that is moment-by-moment enthralling, acutely attuned to the natural world, and never without desperate forward movement.

Given that Jim and his new ally share no common language, the film is nearly wordless — although it is anything but silent. The fecund jungle is alive with the drone of insects and the rattle and caw of birds. Bombers drop their payloads into the distant bush. Jim's boots slap through the muck as he traipses along, panting, and without direction. There are occasional bursts of radio music. Every now and then, a brooding ambient score rises up out of this bed of natural sound. So carefully rendered are the sounds and visions of Canopy that the film's overall effect is one of total immersion. Rarely do we find a feature debut that boasts such control.

JANE SCHOETTLE

Screenings

Sat Sep 07

Scotiabank 5

Industry
6:15pm
Sun Sep 08

TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Regular
9:45pm
Tue Sep 10

Scotiabank 7

Regular
6:45pm
Wed Sep 11

Scotiabank 7

Industry
11:45am
Fri Sep 13

TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Regular
2:45pm