century hotel(2001)
director: david weaver
colm feore, mia kirshner,
tom mccamus, janet kidder

. The sheer ambition of David Weaver’s Century Hotel might not be apparent from the unfortunate shortcomings in production design, camerawork, script and, alas, even acting in this prestigious, yet unaccountably botched, debut feature.

Taking as his setting a hotel room in a once-venerable hotel in a Canadian city, Weaver tries to weave a portrait of morality, politics, and romance over an eighty-year period. The first jarring details come from sloppy production design, which cue wincing anchronisms in the script, rendering the historical settings of each overlapping vignette in the history of the hotel room glaringly false, as glib and cliched as bad theatre.

Setting the film in a single room might have made this misstep understandable, but Weaver’s squandering of the talents of his cast suggests that no one, at any point in the process of production, had the nerve to suggest another re-write, a re-think of the movie’s concept, a plea for more money for better sets and costumes, even a few more days rehearsal. 

The cast -- including Tom McCamus, Colm Feore, Mia Kirschner, Janet Kidder and Sandrine Holt among others, as well as singer Chantal Kreviazuk and her husband, Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace -- is impressively all-star, the local equivalent of a Robert Altman film. Like many reputable Canadian actors before them, they’ll be saddled with yet another hiccup in their careers.

The challenge inherent in weaving together seven separate storylines over eight decades must have been considerable; the moment at which all the plotlines converge and climax was obviously meant as a dramatic crescendo. Unfortunately, nothing in the previous hour or so encourages the audience to regard it as anything but the clanging and bashing of poorly-built machinery.