Malcolm wakes up in his house, but it seems unfamiliar. He remembers nothing about himself or where he is. A woman walks in, saying she’s his wife, but what’s the truth, really? And who’s this guy Ian who claims to be his friend? And holy crow, why are there black-clad masked home invaders breaking into the house?
This is the world of Fugue.
Not to be confused with Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s second film, Fugue is the first feature from writer/director Tomas Street. The story is centred around the aforementioned Malcolm (model/actor Jack Foley, or, if you’re from Toronto, Fashion Santa) and his faded memories. It’s a bottle story, taking place in one isolated, palatial Sudbury home on a micro-budget, with no small number of twists along the way.
Sharing a few cast members, Foley included, and even a few themes from Justin McConnell’s exquisite festival darling, Lifechanger (produced by the prolific Avi Federgreen, who also had his hands in Blood in the Snow 2018 entry, Altered Skin), Fugue almost feels like a sister film to that one. The hazy cloud of memories, the disorientation of waking up somewhere wholly unfamiliar, they’re all very much intact in both films. But while Lifechanger is a ‘bigger’ film, Fugue turns its gaze sharply onto the handful of characters in that house. And that’s enough, because there are constantly-shifting identities, alignments, and chronologies to keep track of.
Foley is very good in the role of Malcolm, and not just because of his immediately-recognizable and transfixing look. He has just the right kind of confused stoicism that gives way to a vicious side when it becomes necessary, while projecting the kind of confidence that only Fashion Santa can embody. But Laura Tremblay, who plays Malcolm’s wife Helen, is just as transfixing, and especially in the second half of the film when certain secrets start coming to the surface, plays off Foley’s performance in a very natural way.
Fugue is the first feature from Sudbury-based production company Rock Street Films North (Christine Rochon and Tomas Street), which used a mostly-Northern Ontario crew and set for this production. It’s great to see films from this beautiful and underutilized region, and we hope that Rock Street will have more for us in the future. If Fugue is any indication, we should be in store for some exciting, slightly disturbing stuff.