IN "The Hanging Garden", a young gay man, William (Chris Levens), returns to his family's rural Canadian home after a ten year absence. He has come back to attend his sister's wedding, only to find that the bride is more pleased about seeing him than she is about getting married. His father is still an aggressive boozer and his mother compulsively tries to feed him. This stirs up visions of himself as a fat young teenager who overeats so that he doesn't have to play sport or see girls. The past and present are interwoven, challenging the linear progression of time.
This film is a joy to watch: it is well-structured and the characters are full of warmth. Love surfaces in the family even amidst the emotional turmoil and physical violence, with characters' secrets and problems, relationships between family members, subtly unfolding. The pace of the film is gentle, but thanks to superb acting, especially on the part of Peter MacNeill as William's father, it is engaging throughout. A wonderful tension builds between William and his father, along with the expectancy that something terrible must happen. "The Hanging Garden" is a first class film about the impact of family and the struggle to be who we want to be.