Fantasia Festival 2017: Fashionista (2016)

Fashionista (2016)


Director and writer: Simon Rumley

Cast: Amanda Fuller, Ethan Embry, Eric Balfour, Alex Essoe, Jemma Evans, Alexandria DeBerry, Devon Bonnee

A woman who uses clothes as an emotional crutch discovers her life isn’t as ideal as she thought… – IMDB

Consumerism is a thriving issue to look at. The addiction of it all and here lies the centre of what this drama and mystery thriller is all about. As the words opening the movie at Fantasia, Fashionista takes you into a world of addiction, sex and rock and roll. Simon Rumley directs and writes this film in a non-linear fashion and films it mostly in that non-linear way. Experimental and unique and the texture of it all is also incredibly independent. It is one of the reasons that Fantasia Festival is such a wonderful experience as we get to see these special pieces of cinema and dive into worlds and film-making styles that we don’t usually get exposed to. Fashionista’s strength lies in this originality of its non-linear presentation. It makes its audience work hard to piece it all together throughout and draw their own conclusions. The majority of it makes sense and the final act will generally resolve most of your suspicions. It sends a message about consumerism and the addiction of one person possibly in an irrational way. Simon Rumley does a great job and capturing the emotions and making very artistic shots.

Its hard to talk about Fashionista without giving praise to its cast. Amanda Fuller takes on the role of April, a woman who lives a dream owning a vintage clothes shop with her husband, Eric ( played by Ethan Embry). She loves clothes and is addicted to its touch and fabric as we quickly learn. She goes through many outfits throughout the movie, something like over a hundred. Amanda Fuller embodies April very well as she is believable in showing us her addiction and as her life falls apart, the reliance on these superficial things in her life. Her behavior shifts easily with every scene especially as she finds out that her husband is having an affair. None of this is spoilers as the trailer shows it. This hops her into another phase in life which enters rich bad boy Randall (played by Eric Balfour) that takes her for another trip filled with sex. Of course, all this is jumbled as the film presents snippets of Randall in the first act and makes us wonder what his whole deal is. Both Ethan Embry and Eric Balfour play great supporting roles here. Their characters are different and in turn as the story unfolds gives us a different feeling.

However, Fashionista does fall short with a less than engaging first act. It takes a long time and spends a little too much time emphasizing on the marriage breakup. Perhaps it is to make sure we connect with April more to feel her pain and her reliance and release with her clothes as she has almost orgasmic reactions when she is with them. It creates a mesmerizing snapshot however it is done a little too much. Some parts of the slow first act could’ve cut down to make this a more compact experience. Not to mention that the fragments were a little much. While well-timed such as keeping the injection of a mysterious woman played by Alex Essoe delightfully short but enough to make us wonder her connection to the rest of the fragments that doesn’t seem to go together. Fashionista truly picks up as Eric Balfour enters the scene and takes us on another journey, similar but different and possibly a little more thrilling. It teases us with a few events and when the entire piece falls into place, it offers up a lot of tension but leaving space for still some mystery.

The rock and roll part is a cornerstone of Fashionista. Its carefully selected music that transitions from one scene to the next or highlighting a certain event or moment. However, it also is these moments where the music is overpowering. Perhaps it is to make sure it overwhelms to emphasize the emotions and become more involved with the story. Unfortunately, it is one of the situations a few moments in we wished that we were watching this at home and we can turn down the volume or later on, whether the movie would voice its story better and be more thrilling and experience using silence instead.

Fashionista is a unique experience, highlighting an important message about addiction to consumerism. It is worth viewing simply for the fantastic performance from Amanda Fuller and its original concept of non-linear storytelling filmed in a non-linear way. It is a thrilling experience however it falls short due to a slow first act and overwhelming musical moments that took away from the movie more than it added. Less is more comes to mind in terms of that criticism. Fashionista is a worth a watch for all its outstanding elements however, perhaps more suitable as a home experience.

Backcountry (2014)

Backcountry (aka Blackfoot Trail) has been a movie on my radar for quite some time. Something about the wilderness being our enemy seems always so intriguing. Think about Frozen, not the Disney animated film but this one here. Maybe not intriguing but the unpredictability is threatening at times because we can’t quite anticipate what to do, except try to prepare the best possible for it. Plus, I love to support Canadian films.

Let’s check this out!

Backcountry (2014)


Director (and writer): Adam MacDonald

Cast: Missy Peregrym,  Jeff Roop, Eric Balfour, Nicholas Campbell

An urban couple go camping in the woods and find themselves lost in the territory of a predatory black bear. – IMDB

Backcountry is a story about survival based on a true story. A couple goes out to the woods lead by boyfriend, Alex who wants to take his busy girlfriend, Jenn to Blackfoot Trail to not only get away from the urban life but to a specific spot he remembered was really pretty when he was younger. Except to finally realize that they were not only lost but with a bear following their tracks. So much thrill can come from this concept and don’t get me wrong, it does because the story takes its time to let us know our characters before putting them into danger and while the thrill of outsmarting nature is great, it is hard to ignore the basic common sense. Please do note that I do not know the true story and never read up on any details so this write up is just from a standalone.


For people who are beginner hikers, or beginner anything really, we all know to go in prepared. This is where we already know where the story will go because Alex, upon being offered a map to the trail and against all caution, decides to go without taking the map. This is about as spoiler as I will get, I promise. How do you cheer for someone who doesn’t even know to protect themselves and have all odds on their side? Now, Jenn doesn’t even pay attention on anything else or listen in on what the ranger says so she just walks in trusting it is all good. I’m all about trust but like I said, you can never be prepared. However, the first part (or half) of the film is really about character development and letting us learn about who these two people are. The decisions they make define who they are and probably what will happen to them. Perhaps also take their story as a cautionary tale.


Early in the film, we start realizing that there a presence of a bear in the area. However Alex chooses to ignore it even when a few more things happen. If I was them, I wouldn’t have continued. No matter how beautiful the scenery is mostly because its more disappointing to die than to wait to come back and enjoy it when its safer, something our two characters really are quite naive about. However, here is where I will stop talking about the main characters but about the introduction of danger. The creepy feeling of camping and having something outside and how sometimes we can’t predict or even know they are there actually creates the fear in the audience before our characters do because we know more than they do at that current point in time. Definitely one of the finer aspects of Backcountry is creating the gruelling and threatening atmosphere and giving it time to slowly build up.


There are a few other characters in this film. The ranger plays a cameo role with just one short scene. The other is an Irish hiking expert (forgot the actual term) Brad who poses as a intimidating person. What is the meaning of his character? That is the question we should ask ourselves if not to simply inject a slightly bigger name because it is played by Eric Balfour. This character is deep and hard to grasp and it makes his short appearance so much more powerful when we see how Alex and Jenn reacts and the strength in our mains. I honestly believe that was the purpose because it shouldn’t be to divert our attention since most do know, especially with the posters, what this movie is about, I’m guessing (which I could be wrong). In many ways, his character managed to intrigue and create mystery.

 Overall, Backcountry is a slow-burn wilderness survival cautionary tale based on a true story. The main characters are given time to develop and for us to know them better while letting the dangers slowly approach. While the atmosphere and intrigue and urgency of the situation is done very well, there is a part of me that can rationalize bits that escape common sense however, still wonder if its just my way of wanting the characters’ decision to make sense. There are some quite brutal sequences and the second half is much more engaging than the first which is mostly about building up our characters before breaking them down.

Have you seen Backcountry?

Lie With Me (2005)

After Netflix Canada had the MY LIST feature added to bookmark/queue the movies I wanted to see, I added Lie With Me in there relatively quickly (along with a bunch of similar genre flicks).  I don’t know why this appealed to me especially since I hadn’t heard of it prior to see the poster there.  Maybe its the whole erotic sex thing going on, I don’t know.  I’m going to be straight out and say that I’m going to have some pretty interesting search terms leading to my site after this review…

lie with me posterDirector: Clement Virgo

Cast: Lauren Lee Smith, Eric Balfour, Polly Shannon

Leila (Lauren Lee Smith) loves to go out and party, meet guys and have fun with no strings attached.  Deep down, she feels incomplete and that something is missing and she’s searching for what it is thats “stuck”.  One night at a party, she meets David (Eric Balfour).  They fall into a whirlwind of sex and lust and unlike her enjoying freedom, he is more possessive and wants her completely to himself.  However, both their separate lives are spinning in a troubled situation with Leila’s parents separating after a long marriage and David’s father being very dependent on his care every day.  With everything going on, they both need to figure out whether the feeling they have between them is lust and love.

lie with me david leila

I’m not exactly sure how to start this review.  This movie really doesn’t lie.  It doesn’t mislead at all.  And if you don’t like the explicit sex content in it within the first 10 minutes well, leave the movie because one, you need to watch the first part to really feel the second part and where they want this movie to go.  I mean we start with the main character Leila touching herself to porn.  I’m saying this because I know that maybe people won’t appreciate the way its done.  There’s not a lot of dialogue and a lot of sex.  Very passionate sex for the most part.  I haven’t really exposed my side regarding this issue mostly because its not that appropriate but I really liked this movie.   Its a romantic drama and with the plot up there, it begs to find the answer of “What is love?” and how do you tell it apart from lust.  For me personally, that was huge because I remember trying to figure that out for a long time.  Some of you  lucky people out there have been surrounded by people who show their emotions of love and flame in their romantic relationships.  Its still always a new journey to figure it all out but I grew up in a slightly different atmosphere so that journey was long and tough at times.

lie with me 1

Leila, played by Lauren Lee Smith, is pretty much the main focus of the story.  Its really her journey and her narrative for the most part.  At times, her narratives are vulgar in a sexual way.  Its how she envisions sex, guys, her feelings and just how lost she actually is.  We can clearly see the change she has once she meets David, someone who is so passionate about her but she doesn’t know what to do with the deep, strong feelings she has for him.  I felt her performance was totally amazing.  At the end, I totally connected with her in an emotional way.  You know how some parts happen and you can feel her heartbreak in her look and the way she acts, my heart actually started aching when she was all confused and lost.

lie with me david

David, played by Eric Balfour, actually wasn’t as strong acting wise, but I think its the script or just the focus isn’t supposed to be on him as much, but the chemistry that he had, especially the passionate sex, with Leila was really incomparable.  Maybe its because I’m a sexual person and I’ve been in that kind of passionate mode so this appeals to me more.  He has a lot of full-on naked scenes so prepare yourself for that. I didn’t find that totally necessary but it doesn’t bother me much.

lie with me 2

Lie With Me is an amazing independent romantic drama.  Its full of sex and lust in the start and follows through with a deeper journey to learn about what love is for a young woman.  Its full of passionate sex scenes, lots of nudity and it really shows how the people close to us affect us a lot in how we change how open we are to love and how we view it in general.  Lauren Lee Smith and Eric Balfour both do amazing in their roles and emit extreme chemistry that will make you connect with the characters.  If you like this sort of thing, maybe you ventured on the “What is love” journey some time in life, this is worth a watch.  Its not perfect but the characters will make your heart flutter and break throughout their journey.  At least it did that for me….

At the time that this goes up,  I’ve already watched this movie again….just to say its really awesome!  On a sidenote, if Hard Candy had worked, I would probably have postponed this one more..but I guess its for the better since I liked it so much 🙂

**This review was crazy hard to write up because I’m a pretty direct person when it comes to this.  So the whole filtering had to be put in, I still hope you all enjoyed the review! **