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TIFF 2021 Review: The Middle Man

A town where accidents occur a regular basis decides to hire a ‘middle man’ to act as the purveyor of bad news to residents.

A job interview conducted by a three-panel committee lays the groundwork for what follows which are a series of fatalities within a social context of a small town.  It is not easy having to tell loved ones that there has been a death in the family in particular when the ill-fortune strikes close to home.

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The desolation of the environment adds to the feeling of entrapment and never-ending sameness.  There is also a prevailing sense of moroseness with the colour palette and the protagonist who cannot seem to escape misfortune no matter hard he tries as his nature will get the better of him.  There is nothing fancy about the cinematography or editing as the focus is entirely on the performances.  The grey beard on Paul Gross has helped him to age well as an actor and to immerse himself into his characters.

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Even though the story is billed as being a dark satire it does not come across that way as the comedy is lacking.  Sure, there is some quirkiness but nothing that generates a laugh.  The Middle Man is more interesting being viewed as a portraiture of an individual attempting to rise above himself towards something better; however, not quite hitting the mark.  That is not to say that everything is hopeless. The ending suggests that despite the bad things that we might do to each other, whether intentional or not, there is still the ability to soldier on together.  The monotone nature does capture what life would be like in a small town but lacks the charisma needed to create compelling characters.

The 46th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 9-18, 2021, and for more information visit    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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