The Five Senses (review)

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A doctor, losing his hearing, who eavesdrops on his neighbors while he still can. A masseuse who longs to be on the receiving end of the touch of another human being. A cake decorator whose beautiful creations look great but don’t taste very good. A professional house cleaner who makes dates to smell his old lovers, hoping to discover if he’s still in love with any of them. A teenaged girl whose eye wanders from the child she’s babysitting to things she shouldn’t be seeing. In a cold, forlorn Toronto, over the course of a few days, the interactions of these characters — loosely bound together by the disappearance of that child during a moment of inattention — create a desolate tapestry of people unable to fully enjoy their own bodies, their own human senses. Their sensory deficits signal disconnects from the world, inabilities to truly relate to other people. Some succeed in finding their ways through their own darkness, forging a new — or reforging an old — human link. Most don’t. Writer/director Jeremy Podeswa has peopled his canvas with wonderfully melancholy faces: Mary-Louise Parker (The Portrait of a Lady), Gabrielle Rose (The Sweet Hereafter), Molly Parker (Sunshine), and the sweetly disconsolate Daniel MacIvor — but their melancholy is contagious. This is an uncomfortable, poignant, and often ineffably sad film about death, loss, and loneliness, much of which is left unresolved. Put yourself in the right frame of mind before taking this one in — if you’re not moody and depressed before you go in, you will be by its end.

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