I just saw this at its Toronto premiere (as far as I know ... outside of festivals, at least). This film succeeds in focusing on honest human emotions and realistic reactions to events and experiences by stripping away all of the non-essential elements of film (the things that are often referred to as 'production values' - as if the 'value' of a production has anything to do with technical 'smoothness' and adherence to formula!) While not as insightful or impactful as similar work like that of the Dardenne Brothers, Lance Hammer's "Ballast", David Ball's "Honey" and others, it still manages to capture the complexities, ambiguities and messiness of hard-to-deal-with emotions, relationship problems, new parenthood, etc.
(Minor Spoiler...) One one hand, the choice by Garrity not to end the film in the sensationalistic way in which it makes us afraid it's heading deserves praise. However, the choice to focus exclusively on Adam's feelings after witnessing the rape, and to portray him almost as more of a victim than Zooey, who was actually raped, seems questionable. Not to seem overly 'politically correct', but shouldn't an ethical film that portrays rape deal with the effects on the actual victim of the rape, rather than being an exoneration of the male's bad feelings at not being able to stop it?
Aside from this one criticism, this film should be seen as a wake-up call to the Canadian film industry - both the people who control the funding for fictional projects and younger filmmakers who are out of school but wanting to avoid the trap of working for 'the industry' (i.e. having a menial technical job on a mediocre American-wannabe t.v. show). It proves that films can be made, almost single-handedly, with only the most basic of tools and little budget (except for completion), as long as one understands how film makes meaning through structure, pacing, acting, etc, and how editing and camera movement, rather than trying to emulate the classical 'continuity' style, can be used expressively to mirror the story and acting beats. The improvisational approach yields genuine performances, letting the viewer observe the actors working through the emotional messiness and interpersonal conflicts, in the moment, as their characters are doing so, rather than seeing someone simply 'deliver' the lines and emotions their characters are supposed to have in a scene.
Will the young filmmakers who are ignored by government funding agencies like Telefilm and the arts councils (while non-filmmakers like Paul Gross continue to get handed millions for their failing vanity projects) take inspiration from this film and just go out and simply make their own, ignoring the workings of 'the system'? Ideally, and if this were a discussion on the probable effects of an American independent film on U.S. film grads, the answer would surely be 'yes'. However, due to the general unavailability of Canadian films for Canadian audiences (i.e. playing at a couple of festivals and theatrically for a weekend in Toronto), the people who stand to be inspired by this will, sadly, likely have no idea of its existence.