TIFF 2014: Guidance
Guidance, the new feature film debut of Canadian director Pat Mills, recently had its world premiere at TIFF. It’s a darkly funny comedy about a man who, while pretending to be someone else, learns to accept himself.
Mills, who also wrote the screenplay, stars as David Gold, a former child TV star and thirty-something actor whose most successful show business days are long behind him. He spends his days drinking to forget, avoiding his rent-collecting landlady, not speaking to his family members, and trying to get a job. When his doctor diagnoses him with a cancerous mole needing treatment, David kills two birds with one stone – he assumes a new identity to get a job as a high school guidance counselor, and avoids dealing with his medical problems.
Unemployed and clearly alcoholic, Gold is in no shape to dole out any kind of advice to the youth of Grusin High School. But there’s no shortage of kids with troubles, and a steady flow of them beat a path to his door. Having used alcohol and drugs to handle his own problems for years, Gold seems to think vodka shots will help the kids, too. Hilarious counseling scenes ensue. Highly troubled himself, he begins to truly connect with the students, and quickly becomes the most popular teacher at school. Not surprisingly, hiding his head in the sand doesn’t solve Gold’s problems, and his fake life begins to crumble around him.
It’s a solid performance from Mills in which he effectively straddles the line between Gold’s hilarious sarcasm and sad, alcohol-induced desperation. And despite the film’s inherent silliness, at its core, Guidance comes across with surprising thoughfulness and authenticity (partly due to the film clips and headshot photos from Mills’ early work as a child actor in the Nickelodeon show, You Can’t Do That on Television in 1989/90). An excellent debut for Mills.
Watch the Guidance Trailer
Director(s): Pat Mills
Premiere Status: World Premiere
Runtime: 83 minutes
Cast & Credits
Executive Producer: Alyson Richards, Ed Gernon
Producer: Alyson Richards, Mike MacMillan
Production Company: Edyson Entertainment Inc
Principal Cast: Pat Mills, Zahra Bentham, Laytrel McMullen, Alex Ozerov, Kevin Hanchard, Tracey Hoyt
Screenplay: Pat Mills
Cinematographer: Daniel Grant
Editor: Bryan Atkinson
Sound: David Guerra
Production Designer: Zosia Mackenzie
International Sales Agent: The Film Sales Company