Written, starring, and directed by Mark Hug, May Charters. 14A. 99 min. Opens April 6.
A palpably handmade Canadian indie that was clearly a labour of love for all involved, Lovers in a Dangerous Time gets by for a while on its modesty. Shot on location and on the cheap in co-writer/director/star Mark Hug’s hometown of Creston, British Columbia, the film has real affection for its small-town milieu, and the actors who appear in smaller roles as the locals have a nicely natural quality.
The same can’t be said for Hug and his collaborator, May Charters, whose performances as former childhood best friends contemplating an adult romance feel unduly fussed-over. While the pair is apparently involved in real life, they don’t quite connect onscreen. It doesn’t help that they’re each playing dressed-down romantic-comedy clichés: the big-city career girl who longs for the simple life and the sweet-hearted bad boy. (Hug’s character is also a failed hockey player, so it’s hardly surprising that he has a brother who made it to the big leagues, or that their final reckoning will take place on the rink.)
In a way, the familiarity of the story works to the film’s advantage, carrying it through some of the technical roughness. But the best microbudget films have a sense of spontaneity that reflects the chaos of their creation. Instead, Lovers in a Dangerous Time unfolds with a sense of inevitability that, though it seems to be part of its design (flashbacks to the main characters as children impart a feeling of destiny), doesn’t give the viewer much to do besides waiting things out.