MONTREAL – Everyone always says they love shooting movies in Montreal. Hey, we have one cool city. But sometimes these visiting filmmakers or actors aren’t totally convincing when they sing the praises of our burg. On occasion, particularly if they call Hollywood home, you get a sense these movie types might just be blowing smoke up you-know-where to make sure they get a good write-up in the paper.
But in a chat the other day at an Old Montreal hotel, Winnipeg writer-director Shawn Linden and Las Vegas-born, Los Angeles-based actor Thomas Dekker seemed 100-per-cent genuine when talking about their passion for Montreal. They were here in the summer of 2011 shooting the Montreal-produced indie flick The Good Lie, a smart, twist-laden thriller that opens on Friday. It’s produced by Kim Berlin and Susan Schneir, the duo behind writer-director Deborah Chow’s acclaimed The High Cost of Living.
“It’s my favourite city,” said Linden.
“It’s my favourite city,” echoed Dekker, putting even more emphasis on “favourite.”
“I love being surrounded by French,” said Dekker, who is best known for playing John Connor in the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Linden, it turns out, is fluent in the language of Jutra. He went to school in Winnipeg en français, “depuis la maternelle” and through Grade 10.
“During my later teen years and 20s, it kind of got rusty, but most of the artists and writers that I really, really admire speak French or they write in French. So I got my secondary French education from Albert Camus and Arthur Rimbaud.”
Linden and Dekker, like most everyone else who visits our fine city, also really dug the town’s eateries.
“I’m a food monster and we were all fat pigs when we left Montreal,” said Linden.
Dekker says Matt Craven, who plays his father in the movie, went to Garde Manger in Old Montreal nearly every night.
“And I love the architecture here. And it’s rare when you make a film that you end up making friends with people who have nothing to do with the film,” said Dekker. “I don’t know how it happened, but I met a lot of local young people. And I really liked the music here.”
The funny thing is that though both profess a real love for Montreal, when you watch The Good Lie you would never guess it was mostly filmed here. It is not set in a specific location, with the dark tale happening in a nameless town, located not too far from a wooded area.
Cullen (Dekker) is a high-school kid whose life is thrown for a major-league loop when his mother (Julie Le Breton) dies in a car crash and he discovers that he is the product of a rape. The rapist, who nearly murdered his mother, was convicted and sent to prison for the crime. Cullen decides he has to confront his biological father.
Linden wrote the screenplay 10 years ago and says it was partly inspired by growing up in a family where his mother was adopted.
“My grandparents, her adopted parents, are two of the most amazing people I’ve ever met in my entire life,” Linden said. “They’re not my blood, but I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever loved more in the world. So it was that relationship that was the inspiration for it.”
Linden mixes things up in The Good Lie by combining the main narrative with a series of wild stories told around a campfire by Cullen and his pals.
“It has this core story that’s very sober and very honest, and then it’s surrounded by these vignettes that are ridiculous and fantastical and funny,” said Dekker. “I felt it was very precisely constructed. But it allowed you to go on a very dark journey while still having a film that’s very entertaining.”
Dekker has starred in major studio productions like the Terminator TV series, but says he had no hesitation about agreeing to act in a low-budget Canadian independent picture.
“I really just look at what is good and what interests me,” said Dekker. “It’s actually the reverse for me. I’ll say, ‘OK. I’ll have to take something I’m not excited about because it pays well.’ The projects I get excited about, it doesn’t matter what country they’re made in or what I’m getting paid. My favourite work of mine is almost all small movies that didn’t pay the rent and I didn’t care. That’s the life of an actor — the job you have to take versus the job you want to take.”
Adds Linden: “It’s the job you have to take in order to take the job you want.”
Dekker just shot a high-profile pilot for CBS, Backstrom, produced by the creators of Bones and based on a series of Swedish crime novels.
“It’s very smart,” said Dekker. “’That would be a job that pays the bills and is enjoyable.”
The Good Lie opens on Friday, May 3.
Thanks to farfarellomalebranche for the head’s up!